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EDITED BY 
DAGOBERT D. RUNES 




PHILOSOPHICAL LIBRARY 

NEW YORK 



COPYRIGHT, 1947, BY 

THE PHILOSOPHICAL LIBRARY, INC. 

15 East 40th Street 

New York 16, N. Y. 



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 








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ORIGINAL AT THE AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY, 
IN PHILADELPHIA. 



EDITOR'S PREFACE 

U !F A GREAT MAN DIES, there is a hole in the world." Time may 
do much to fill that hole; on the two hundredth anniversary of 
the birth of Benjamin Rush, for example, few memorials echoed 
his name in this great land. Yet few were as fiery as he, or more 
influential, in the vehemence of protest that brought this country 
into being; and few held the standards of its early learning and 
culture as high as he held them. 

Only Thomas Paine a close friend could match Benjamin 
Rush in uncompromising revolutionary spirit. Rush, incidentally, 
suggested the title for Paine's historic pamphlet, "Common 
Sense." * Together, they ploughed the field for revolution in 
Colonial America. And only Benjamin Franklin, in the young 
United States, had the humane versatility, the many-sided in- 
terests, the wide learning, of Benjamin Rush. 

The interests of Dr. Rush were varied, but their direction was 
unwaveringly toward the betterment of mankind. His scientific 
and medical investigations, as well as his social studies and en- 
deavors, were interfused with deeply religious and ethical feeling. 
In science and medicine, he sought along the frontiers of knowl- 
edge. In the quest for social and political justice, he fought on the 
side of the weak. [Alexander Hamilton blocked his appointment 
to the medical faculty of Columbia College, on the ground of his 
"too radical beliefs."] 

He was considered by many the great physician of his coun- 
try and time. Perhaps he was not. Medicine, in his day, was still 
groping in the dark. The bacterial nature of diseases was as yet 
unknown; as yet undiscovered was the application of anaesthesia, 
the door to surgery. 

Yet Benjamin Rush was the first in America to employ oc- 

* See frontispiece (facsimile of Diary). 



vi EDITOR'S PREFACE 

cupational therapy in the treatment of mental ills, and to en- 
courage anticipating modern methods analytical conversation 
'with the patient. 

There can be no doubt as to the depth of Rush's burning 
patriotism, his hatred of the British oppression, of all tyranny. 
His signature on the Declaration of Independence was by no 
means a merely formal one. It signified not only his people's fight 
against British domination, but his continuing resolve to battle 
tyranny, intolerance, and suppression in his native America. 

Benjamin Rush's pamphlets, articles, letters, and speeches 
mount into the thousands. He pleaded for the abolition of slavery. 
He urged the removal of the death penalty. He argued for the 
amelioration of the lot of civil prisoners, who, often jailed for no 
worse crime than debt, were sent to labor in city-streets chained 
down with heavy iron balls. He advocated the establishment of 
special hospitals for the insane, then confined in vermin-infested 
stables, at the mercy of ignorant and brutal guards. There was 
no current cause worthy of support that did not benefit from 
the warm heart, the outstretched hand, and the uplifted voice of 
Benjamin Rush. 

It was inevitable that so staunch a fighter should rally around 
him many friends and supporters, but also unite against him many 
who preferred or profited by the status quo. Conscious of the great 
opportunities of the new country, Rush was equally aware of its 
failings and insufficiencies. In his national pride and his forthright 
directness, he became the conscience of the new-born republic. 

Even before the birth of the new nation, during the events 
that led up to and that marked the American Revolution, this 
keen conscience of Benjamin Rush was a goad to his fellows. It 
must be remembered that a considerable body of business men 
and of politicians was at first entirely opposed to a War for Inde- 
pendence, and during the War clamored for a policy of appease- 
ment. In this struggle Benjamin Rush, along with his friend, 
Thomas Paine, was enlisted in the determined left. So strong were 
his political integrity and fervor, so rigid his devotion to the 
principles of political and social democracy, that he came into 



EDITOR'S PREFACE vii 

conflict with a number of the leaders of the day. Even George 
Washington who, incidentally, Thomas Paine complained, de- 
serted him during his imprisonment at the time of the French 
Revolution was brought into opposition by Rush's refusal to 
grant the merest iota of compromise. Such men as he, holding 
steadfast to the ideal, point to the peaks toward which civilization 
must painfully and tardily climb. In later years, Rush removed 
from his papers most of the references to these conflicts. We may 
never resolve some of the controversies of their mystery; but we 
may be confident that Benjamin Rush, though not always prac- 
tical, was always in the right. 



Benjamin Rush was born on December 24, 1745, on his 
father's farm north of Philadelphia. At an early age he was sent 
to the Academy of his uncle, the Rev. Samuel Finley. Here he 
imbibed a deeply religious spirit. In 1759, he entered Princeton 
College, receiving the bachelor's degree before he had reached 
the age of fifteen. 

For the next six years, he devoted himself to the study of 
medicine, under the direction of Dr. Redman of Philadelphia. 
He then enrolled at the University of Edinburgh where, in 1768, 
he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Medicine. 

After his graduation, following a brief trip to France, Benja- 
min Rush returned to Philadelphia. In 1769 he was appointed 
Professor of Chemistry in the College of Philadelphia, the first 
medical school in America. When, in 1791, the College was ex- 
panded into a University, Rush was appointed Professor of the 
Institutes and Practices of Medicine. 

In the meantime had come the struggle for independence, 
upon which Benjamin Rush embarked with equal energy and de- 
votion. He was a member of the Revolutionary Congress, which 
in 1776 passed the Declaration of Independence. He served in the 
War as Military Surgeon. Having little taste for routine politics 
or for professional politicians, Rush later sought to withdraw 
from political activity. In 1799, however, President Adams hon- 



viii EDITOR'S PREFACE 

ored him with the appointment as Treasurer of the National 
Mint. He held this office for his remaining fourteen years. 

The medical and social concerns of Benjamin Rush had never 
lapsed. One of his basic characteristics as teacher and physician 
was his deep-set conviction that medical science was in its in- 
fancy. Although the great bacteriological discoveries in medicine 
did not bring their far-reaching changes until two generations 
later, Rush was outstanding for his rejection of medical ortho- 
doxy, for his emphasis on continuing sober research. His self- 
denial and personal fortitude during the Philadelphia yellow 
fever epidemic of 1795 belong to the annals of medical heroism. 

Benjamin Rush was an indefatigable student of natural sci- 
ence. He was rarely without a book in hand. Even at mealtimes, 
he was in one way or another preoccupied with sttidy, research, 
or practice. In truly Socratic manner, he interrogated persons in 
all stations of life, and he frequently declared that he had received 
valuable information from laymen, quacks, even madmen. "The 
student," he said, "should always, like a plant, be in an absorbing 
state. Even his dreams should not be permitted to sport them- 
selves idly in his brain." 

The writings of Rush show a wide range of interest and 
knowledge, embracing agriculture and the mechanical arts, chem- 
istry and medicine, political science and theology. Numerous art 
the letters and articles he wrote, anonymously as well as und^r 
his own name, in his constant endeavor to dispel prejudice, to 
fight oppression, to elevate the lot of the lowly. 

Rush was continually active in the support of institutions 
and organizations for the advancement of human learning. Not 
only was he instrumental in establishing colleges and other 
schools of higher learning in his own state of Pennsylvania, but 
he advocated establishment of free public schools in every town- 
ship, in order to create unified systems of state education. He 
wanted his beloved American Republic to grow into one great 
and enlightened family. 

In the field of public welfare, Rush was the founder of the 
Philadelphia Dispensary, the first institution of its kind in the 



EDITOR'S PREFACE ix 

United States. He also made searching examinations of the meth- 
ods of punishment of criminals. He protested against the vicious- 
ness of a penal law that chained convicts to wheelbarrows, 
dragging them through public streets on road jobs, dressed in 
conspicuous convict clothes, with shaven heads as a symbol of 
infamy. He vehemently maintained that such a system tended 
only to harden the criminals, not to improve them. In this field 
of penology, too, Rush was one of America's earliest reformers. 
Benjamin Rush's lifework in the social and scientific fields 
places him clearly at the head of the early American fighters for 
a more wholesome, a more secure, a happier way of living. He 
stands also among the early patriots who with clear eye and un- 
flagging zeal saw, and worked to achieve, the goals of human 
freedom. He himself sums up this aspect of his being: "My read- 
ing, observations, and reflections have tended more and more to 
show the absurdity of hereditary power and to prove that no 
form of government can be rational, but that which is derived 
from the suffrages of the people who are the subjects of it." 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION v 

ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 

ON SLAVE-KEEPING [1773] 3 
A PLAN OF A PEACE-OFFICE FOR THE UNITED STATES 

[1799] 19 
ON HELPING THE AFRICANS [date UllknOWll] 24 
ON THE DEFECTS OF THE CONFEDERATION [1787] 2 6 
ON SECURITIES FOR LIBERTY [1792] 32 
ON PUNISHING MURDER BY DEATH [1792] 35 
OBSERVATIONS ON THE GOVERNMENT OF PENN- 
SYLVANIA [1777] 54 

ON EDUCATION 

OF THE MODE OF EDUCATION PROPER IN A REPUBLIC 

[I 79 8] 8 7 

EDUCATION AGREEABLE TO A REPUBLICAN FORM OF 

GOVERNMENT [1786] 97 

PLAN OF A FEDERAL UNIVERSITY [1788] I O I 

THE AMUSEMENTS AND PUNISHMENTS WHICH ARE 

PROPER FOR SCHOOLS [1790] IO6 

THE BIBLE AS A SCHOOL BOOK [1791] 117 

ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 

LECTURES ON ANIMAL LIFE [1799] 133 

THE INFLUENCE OF PHYSICAL CAUSES UPON THE 

MORAL FACULTY [1786] 1 8 1 

zi 



xii CONTENTS 

PAGE 

ON THE DIFFERENT SPECIES OF MANIA [date UllkllOWnJ 212 

ON THE DIFFERENT SPECIES OF PHOBIA [date UnkllOWll] 22O 

THE PROGRESS OF MEDICINE [l8oi] 2 27 

OBSERVATIONS AND REASONING IN MEDICINE [1791] 245 
MEDICINE AMONG THE INDIANS OF NORTH AMERICA 

[1774] M4 

THE VICES AND VIRTUES OF PHYSICIANS [l8oi] 293 

DUTIES OF A PHYSICIAN [1789] 308 

ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 

INFLUENCE OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION [1789] 325 

THE EFFECTS OF ARDENT SPIRITS UPON MAN [1805] 334 

ON OLD AGE [1789] 342 

SERMON ON EXERCISE [1772] 358 

ON MANNERS [1769] 373 

DIRECTIONS FOR CONDUCTING A NEWSPAPER [1788] 396 

THE BENEFITS OF CHARITY [1788] 399 

THE YELLOW FEVER [1792] 404 

APPENDIX 

LIST OF WRITINGS PUBLISHED DURING LIFETIME 419 

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 423 

INDEX 425 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 



ON SLAVE-KEEPING 



So MUCH hath been said upon the subject of Slave-keeping, that 
an apology may be required for this paper. The only one I shall 
off er is, that the evil still continues. This may in part be owing 
to the great attachment we have to our own interest, and in part 
to the subject not being fully exhausted. The design of the fol- 
lowing paper is to sum up the leading arguments against it, sev- 
eral of which have not been urged by any of those authors who 
have written upon it. 

Without entering into the history of the facts which relate 
to the slave-trade, I shall proceed immediately to combat the 
principal arguments which are used to support it. 

And here I need hardly say any thing in favor of the Intellects 
of the Negroes, or of their capacities for virtue and happiness, 
although these have been supposed by some to be inferior to 
those of the inhabitants of Europe. The accounts which travellers 
give us of their ingenuity, humanity, and strong attachment to 
their parents, relations, friends and country, show us that they 
are equal to the Europeans, when we allow for the diversity of 
temper and genius which is occasioned by climate. We have 
many well attested anecdotes of as sublime and disinterested 
virtue among them as ever adorned a Roman or a Christian char- 
acter.* But we are to distinguish between an African in his own 

* See SPECTATOR, Vol. I. No. 1 1 . 

There is now in the town of Boston a Free Negro Girl, about 18 
years of age, who has been but 9 years in the country, whose singular 
genius and accomplishments are such as not only do honor to her sex, 
but to human nature. Several of her poems have been printed, and read 
with pleasure by the public. 

3 



4 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

country, and an African in a state of slavery in America. Slavery 
is so foreign to the human mind, that the moral faculties, as well 
as those of the understanding are debased, 'and rendered torpid 
by it. All the vices which are charged upon the Negroes in the 
southern colonies and the West-Indies, such as Idleness, Treach- 
ery, Theft, and the like, are the genuine offspring of slavery, and 
serve as an argument to prove that they were not intended, by 
Providence for it. 

Nor let it be said, in the present Age, that their black color 
(as it is commonly called), either subjects them to, or qualifies 
them for slavery.* The vulgar notion of their being descended 
from Cain, who was supposed to have been marked with this 
color, is too absurd to need a refutation. Without enquiring 
into the Cause of this blackness, I shall only add upon this sub- 
ject, that so far from being a curse, it subjects the Negroes to no 
inconveniencies, but on the contrary qualifies them for that part 
of the Globe in which providence has placed them. The ravages 
of heat, diseases and time, appear less in their faces than in a white 
one; and when we exclude variety of color from our ideas of 



* Montesquieu, in his Spirit of Laws, treats this argument with the 
ridicule it deserves. 

"Were I to vindicate our right to make slaves of the Negroes, these 
should be my arguments. 

The Europeans having extirpated the American Indians, were obliged 
to make slaves of the Africans, for clearing such vast tracts of land. 

Sugar would be too dear, if the plants which produce it were culti- 
vated by any other than slaves. 

These creatures are all over black, and with such a flat nose, that they 
can scarcely be pitied. 

It is hardly to be believed that God, who is a wise being, should place 
a soul, especially a good soul, in such a black ugly body. 

The Negroes prefer a glass necklace to that gold, which polite nations 
so highly value: can there be a greater proof of their wanting common 
sense. 

It is impossible for us to suppose these creatures to be men, because, 
allowing them to be men, a suspicion would follow, that we ourselves are 
not Christians." 

BOOK xv. CHAP. v. 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 5 

Beauty, they may be said to possess every thing necessary to 
constitute it in common with the white people.f 

It has been urged by the inhabitants of the Sugar Islands and 
South Carolina, that it would be impossible to carry on the manu- 
factories of Sugar, Rice, and Indigo, without Negro slaves. No 
manufactory can ever be of consequence enough to society, to 
admit the least violation of the laws of justice or humanity. But 
I am far from thinking the arguments used in favor of employ- 
ing Negroes for the cultivation of these articles, should have 
any weight. 

M. Le Poivre, late envoy from the king of France, to the 
king of Cochin-China, and now intendant of the isles of Bour- 
bon and Mauritius, in his observations upon the manners and arts 
of the various nations in Africa and Asia, speaking of the culture 
of sugar in Cochin-China, has the following remarks "It is 
worthy observation too, that the sugar cane is there cultivated 
by freemen, and all the process of preparation and refining, the 
work of free hands. Compare then the price of the Cochin- 
Chinese production with the same commodity which is culti- 
vated and prepared by the wretched slaves of our European 
colonies, and judge if, to procure sugar from our colonies, it 
was necessary to authorize by law the slavery of the unhappy 
Africans transported to America. From what I have observed 
at Cochin-China, I cannot entertain a doubt, but that our West- 
India colonies, had they been distributed without reservation 
amongst a free people, would have produced double the quan- 
tity that it now procured from the labor of the unfortunate 
Negroes. 

What advantage, then, has accrued to Europe, civilized as 
it is, and thoroughly versed in the laws of nature, and the rights 

t "Quamvis ille niger, quamvis tu candidus esses. 

Nimium ne crede colori. 

Alba Ligustra cadunt; Vaccinia nigra leguntur." 

VIRGIL. 

"I am black, but comely" 

SONG OF SOLOMON. 



6 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

of mankind, by legally authorizing in our colonies, the daily 
outrages against human nature, permitting them to debase man 
almost below the level of the beasts of the field? These slavish 
laws have proved as opposite to its interest, as they are to its 
honor, and to the laws of humanity. This remark I have often 
made. 

Liberty and property form the basis of abundance, and good 
agriculture: I never observed it to flourish where those rights 
of mankind were not firmly established. The earth which mul- 
tiplies her productions with a kind of profusion, under the hands 
of the free-born laborer seems to shrink into barrenness under 
the sweat of the slave. Such is the will of the great Author of 
our Nature, who has created man free, and assigned to him the 
earth, that he might cultivate his possession witji the sweat of 
his brow; but still should enjoy his Liberty. 

Now if the plantations in the islands and the southern colo- 
nies were more limited, and freemen only employed in working 
them, the general product would be greater, although the profits 
to individuals would be less, a circumstance this, which by 
diminishing opulence in a few, would suppress luxury and vice, 
and promote that equal distribution of property, which appears 

best calculated to promote the welfare of society. * I know 

it has been said by some, that none but the natives of warm 
climates could undergo the excessive heat and labor of the West- 
India islands. But this argument is founded upon an error; for 
the reverse of this is true. I have been informed by good author- 
ity, that one European who escapes the first or second year, 

* From this account of Le Poivre's, we may learn the futility of the 
argument, that the number of vessels in the sugar trade, serve as a nursery 
for seamen, and that the Negroes consume a large quantity of the manu- 
factures of Great Britain. If freemen only were employed in the islands, 
a double quantity of sugar would be made, and of course twice the num- 
ber of vessels and seamen would be made use of in the trade. One freeman 
consumes yearly four times the quantity of British goods that a Negro 
does. Slaves multiply in all countries slowly. Freemen multiply in pro- 
portion as slavery is discouraged. It is to be hoped therefore that motives 
of policy will at last induce Britons to give up a trade, which those of 
justice and humanity cannot prevail upon them to relinquish. 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 7 

will do twice the work, and live twice the number of years that 
an ordinary Negro will do: nor need we be surprised at this, 
when we hear that such is the natural fertility of the soil, and 
so numerous the spontaneous fruits of the earth in the interior 
parts of Africa, that the natives live in plenty at the expence 
of little or no labor, which, in warm climates, has ever been 
found to be incompatible with long life and happiness. Future 
ages, therefore, when they read the accounts of the Slave Trade 

( if they do not regard them as fabulous) will be at a loss 

which to condemn most, our folly or our guilt, in abetting this 
direct violation of the laws of nature and religion. 

But there are some who have gone so far as to say that 
slavery is not repugnant to the genius of Christianity, and that 
it is not forbidden in any part of the Scriptures. Natural and 
revealed Religion always speak the same things, although the 
latter delivers its precepts with a louder, and more distinct voice 
than the former. If it could be proved that no testimony was to 
be found in the Bible against a practice so pregnant with evils 
of the most destructive tendency to society, it would be suffi- 
cient to overthrow its divine original. We read it is true of 
Abraham's having slaves born in his house; and we have reason 
to believe, that part of the riches of the patriarchs consisted in 
them: but we can no more infer the lawfulness of the practice, 
from the short account which the Jewish historian gives us of 
these facts, than we can vindicate telling a lie, because Rahab 
is not condemned for it in the account which is given of her 
deceiving the king of Jericho.* We read that some of the same 

*3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the 
men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they 
be come to search out all the country. 

4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, 
There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they 'were. 

5 And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when 
it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went, I wot not: 
pursue after them quickly, for ye shall overtake them. 

6 But she brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them 
with the stalks of flax, which sne had laid in order upon the roof. 

JOSHUA, Chap. II. 



8 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

men indulged themselves in a plurality of wives, without any 
strictures being made upon their conduct for it; and yet no one 
will pretend to say, that this is not forbidden in many parts of 
the Old Testament. f But we are told the Jews kept the heathens 
in perpetual bondage.J The design of providence in permitting 
this evil, was probably to prevent the Jews from marrying among 
strangers, to which their intercourse with them upon any other 
footing than that of slaves, would naturally have inclined them.* 
Had this taken place their Natural Religion would have been 
corrupted they would have contracted all their vices,** and the 
intention of providence in keeping them a distinct people, in 
order to accomplish the promise made to Abraham, that "in his 
Seed all the Nations of the earth should be blessed," would have 
been defeated; so that the descent of the MESSIAH from ABRA- 
HAM, could not have been traced, and the divine commission of 
the Son of God, would have wanted one of its most powerful 
arguments to support it. But with regard to their own country- 
men, it is plain, perpetual slavery was not tolerated. Hence, at 
the end of seven years or in the year of the jubilee, all the 

fProv. v. 18, 19, 20. 

JLevit. xxv. 44, 45, 46. 

* That marriage with strangers was looked upon as a crime among 
the Jews, we learn from Ezra ix. i to 6, also from the whole of Chapter x. 
** May not this be the reason why swine's flesh was forbidden to the 
Jews, lest they should be tempted to eat with their heathen neighbours, 
who used it in diet? This appears more probable than the opinion of 
Doctor MEAD, who supposes that it has a physical tendency to produce 
the leprosy; or that of VOLTAIRE, who asserts that the Jews learned to 
abstain from this flesh from the Egyptians, who valued the Hog almost 
to a degree of idolatry for its great usefulness in rooting up the Ground. 
What makes this conjecture the more probable is, that the Jews abstained 
from several other kinds of flesh used by their heathen neighbours, which 
have never been accused of bringing on diseases of the skin, and which 
were used constantly in diet by the Egyptians. The account which Taci- 
tus gives of the diet and custom of the Jews, is directly to our purpose 

"Bos quoque immolantur, quern JEgyptii apin colunt. ^gyptii ple- 
raque animalia, Effigiesque compositas venerantur; Judaei mente sola, 
unumque numen intelligunt, Separati Epulis, discreti Cubilibus, Aliena- 
rum Concubitu Abstinent." 

HISTOR. LIB. V. 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 9 

Hebrew slaves were set at liberty,* and it was held unlawful to 
detain them in servitude longer than that time, except by their 
own consent.f But if, in the partial revelation which GOD 
made, of his will to the Jews, we find such testimonies against 
slavery, what may we not expect from the Gospel, the design 
of which was to abolish all distinctions of name and country. 
While the Jews thought they complied with the precepts of the 
law, in confining the love of their neighbour "to the children of 
tjieir own people," Christ commands us to look upon all mankind 
even our enemies J as our neighbours and brethren, and "in all 
things, to do unto them whatever we would wish they should 
do unto us.'' He tells us further that his "Kingdom is not of this 
World," and therefore constantly avoids saying any thing that 
might interfere directly with the Roman or Jewish governments: 
so that altho' he does not call upon masters to emancipate their 
slaves, or upon slaves to assert that liberty wherewith God and 
nature had made them free, yet there is scarcely a parable or a 
sermon in the whole history of his life, but what contains the 
strongest arguments against slavery. Every prohibition of cov- 
etousness intemperance pride uncleanness theft and mur- 
der, which he delivered, every lesson of meekness, humility, 
forbearance, charity, self-denial, and brotherly-love which he 
taugh't, are levelled against this evil; for slavery, while it in- 
cludes all the former vices, necessarily excludes the practice of 
all the latter virtues, both from the master and the slave. Let 
such, therefore, who vindicate the traffic of buying and selling 
souls, seek some modern system of religion to support it, and 
not presume to sanctify their crimes by attempting to reconcile 
it to the sublime and perfect Religion of the Great Author of 
Christianity.** 

* Deuteronomy xxiv. 7. 

fDeut. xv. 12. 

t This is strongly inculcated in the story of the good Samaritan, 
Luke x. 

** The influence of Christianity in putting a stop to slavery, appears 
in the first Christian emperor Constantine, who commanded, under the 
severest penalties, all such as had slaves, to set them at liberty. He after- 



io SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

There are some amongst us who cannot help allowing the 
force of our last argument, but plead as a motive for importing 
and keeping slaves, that they become acquainted with the prin- 
ciples of the religion of our country. This is like justifying a 
highway robbery because part of the money acquired in this 
manner was appropriated to some religious use. Christianity 
will never be propagated by any other methods than those em- 
ployed by Christ and his apostles. Slavery is an engine as little 
fitted for that purpose as fire or the sword. A Christian slave is 
a contradiction in terms.* But if we enquire into the methods 

wards contrived to render the manumission of them much easier than 
formerly, for instead of recurring to the forms prescribed by the Roman 
laws, which were attended with great difficulties and a considerable ex- 
pence, he gave leave to masters to infranchise their slaves in the presence 
of a bishop, or a minister and a Christian assembly. 

Universal History, vol. xv. p. 574, 577. 

Dr. ROBERTSON, in treating of those causes which weakened the 
feudal system, and finally abolished slavery in Europe, in the i4th cen- 
tury, has the following observations 

"The gentle spirit of the Christian religion, together with the doc- 
trines which it teaches, concerning the original equality of mankind, as 
well as the impartial eye with which the almighty regards men of every 
condition, and admits them to a participation of his benefits, are incon- 
sistent with servitude. But in this, as in many other instances, considera- 
tions of interest and the maxims of false policy, led men to a conduct 
inconsistent with their principles. They were so sensible, however, of the 
inconsistency, that to set their fellow Christians at liberty from servitude 
was deemed an act of piety highly meritorious, and acceptable to Heaven. 
The humane spirit of the Christian religion, struggled with the maxims 
and manners of the world, and contributed more than any other circum- 
stance, to introduce the practice of manumission. The formality of 
manumission was executed in a church or a religious assembly. The 
person to be set free, was led round the great altar, with a torch in his 
hand, he took hold of the horns of the altar, and there the solemn words 
conferring liberty, were pronounced." 

CHARLES V. Historical Illustrations. Note xx. 

* St. Paul's letter to Philemon, in behalf of Onesimus, is said by some 
to contradict this assertion, but, if viewed properly, will rather support it. 
He desires Philemon to receive him "not as a servant, but as a brother 
beloved," "as his son and part of himself." In other parts of his writings, 
he obliquely hints at the impossibility of uniting the duties of a Chris- 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 11 

employed for converting the Negroes to Christianity, we shall 
find the means suited to the end proposed. In many places Sunday 
is appropriated to work for themselves. Reading and writing are 
discouraged among them. A belief is even inculcated among 
some, that they have no souls. In a word, Every attempt to 
instruct or convert them, has been constantly opposed by their 
masters. Nor has the example of their Christian masters any 
tendency to prejudice them in favor of our religion. How; often 
do they betray, in their sudden transports of anger and resent- 
ment (against which there is no restraint provided towards their 

Negroes) the most violent degrees of passion and fury! 

What luxury what ingratitude to the supreme being what 
impiety in their ordinary conversation do some of them discover 
in the presence of their slaves; I say nothing of the dissolution 
of marriage vows, or the entire abolition of matrimony, which 
the frequent sale of them introduces, and which are directly 
contrary to the law of nature and the principles of Christianity. 
Would to heaven I could here conceal the shocking violations 
of chastity, which some of them are obliged to undergo without 
daring to complain. Husbands have been forced to prostitute 
their wives, and mothers their daughters, to gratify the brutal 
lust of a master. This all this is practised blush ye impure 

and hardened monsters, while I repeat it by men who call 

themselves Christians! 

But further It has been said that we do a kindness to the 

Negroes by bringing them to America, as we thereby save their 
lives, which had been forfeited by their being conquered in war.* 

tian, with the offices of a slave. "Ye are bought with a price, be not there- 
fore the servants of men." i Corinth, vii. 23. Had he lived to see Chris- 
tianity established by Law, in the countries where he preached, with what 
a torrent of Christian eloquence may we not suppose he would have 
declaimed against slavery! 

* "From the right of killing in case of conquest, politicians have 
drawn that of reducing to slavery; a consequence as ill grounded as the 
principle. 

There is no such thing as a right of reducing people to slavery, but 
when it becomes necessary for the preservation of the conquest. Preserva- 



ii SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

Let such as prefer or inflict slavery rather than death, disown 
their being descended from or connected with our mother 
countries. But it will be found, upon enquiry, that many are 
stolen or seduced from their friends, who have never been con- 
quered; and it is plain, from the testimony of historians and 
travellers, that wars were uncommon among them, until the 
Christians who began the slave trade, stirred up the different 
nations to fight against each other. Sooner let them imbrue their 
hands in each others blood, or condemn one another to per- 
petual slavery, than the name of one Christian, or one American 
be stained by the perpetuation of such enormous crimes. -Nor 
let it be urged that by treating slaves well, we render their 

situation happier in this country than it was in their own. 

slavery and vice are connected together, and the latter is always 
a source of misery. Besides, by the greatest humanity we can 
show them, we only lessen, but do not remove the crime, for 
the injustice of it continues the same. The laws of retribution 
are so strongly inculcated by the moral governor of the world, 
that even the ox is entitled to his reward for "treading the corn." 
How great then must be the amount of that injustice which 
deprives so many of our fellow creatures of the just reward of 
their labor! * 

tion, but not servitude, is the end of conquest; though servitude may 
happen sometimes to be a necessary means of preservation. 

Even in that case it is contrary to the nature of things, that the 
slavery should be perpetual. The people enslaved ought to be rendered 
capable of becoming subjects." 

Montesquieu's Spirit of Laws, Book x. Chap. 3 

"Servi autem ex eo appellati sunt, quod Imperatores captivos vendere, 
ac per hoc servare, nee occidere solent. Servitus est constitutio Juris 

Gentium, qua quis Dominio alieno CONTRA NATURAM subjicitur. 

Justinian. Institut. L. i. Tit. 3. 

* The debt of a master to a Negro man whose work is valued at ten 
pounds sterling a year, deducting forty shillings a year, which is the most 
that is laid out for their clothing in the West-Indies, amounts, in the 
course of 20 years, to . 160 sterling. The victuals are included in the 
above wages. These^ consist chiefly of vegetables, and are very cheap. 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 13 

But it will be asked here, What steps shall we take to remedy 
this evil, and what shall we do with those slaves we have akeady 
in this country? This is indeed a most difficult question. But 
let every man contrive to answer it for himself. If you possessed 
an estate which was bequeathed to you by your ancestors, and 
were afterwards convinced that it was the just property of 
another man, would you think it right to continue in the pos- 
session of it? would you not give it up immediately to the lawful 
owner? The voice of all mankind would mark him for a villain 
who would refuse to comply with this demand of justice. And 
is not keeping a slave after you are convinced of the unlawfulness 
of it a crime of the same nature? All the money you save, or 
acquire by their labor is stolen from them; and however plausi- 
ble the excuse may be that you form to reconcile it to your 
consciences, yet be assured that your crime stands registered 
in the court of Heaven as a breach of the eighth commandment. 

The first step to be taken to put a stop to slavery in this 
country, is to leave off importing slaves. For this purpose let 
our assemblies unite in petitioning the King and Parliament to 
dissolve the African Company.* It is by this incorporated band 
of robbers that the trade has been chiefly carried on to America. 
We have the more reason to expect relief from an application 
at this juncture, as, by a late decision in favor of a Virginia slave, 
at Westminster-Hall, the clamors of the whole nation are raised 
against them. Let such of our countrymen as engage in the slave 
trade, be shunned as the greatest enemies to our country, and, 
let the vessels which bring the slaves to us, be avoided as if they 
bore in them the seeds of that forbidden fruit, whose baneful 

taste destroyed both the natural and moral world. As for the 

Negroes among us, who, from having acquired all the low vices 
of slavery, or who, from age or infirmities are unfit to be set at 

* The Virginia Assembly, which had the honor of being first on the 
continent in opposing the American Stamp Act by their Resolves, have 
lately set another laudable example to the colonies in being the first in 
petitioning for a redress of this grievance. 



i 4 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

liberty, I would propose, for the good of society, that they 
should continue the property of those with whom they grew 
old, or from whom they contracted those vices and infirmities. 
But let the young Negroes be educated in the principles of 

virtue and religion let them be taught to read and write and 

afterwards instructed in some business, whereby they may be 
able to maintain themselves. Let laws be made to limit the time 
of their servitude, and to entitle them to all the privileges of 
free-born British subjects. At any rate let retribution be done 
to God and to society.* 

* A worthy friend of mine has favored me with the following Ex- 
tract of a letter from GRANVILLE SHARP, Esq; of London. 

"I am told of some regulations that have taken place in the Spanish 
Colonies, which do the Spaniards much honor, and are certainly worthy 
our imitation, in case we should not be so happy as to obtain an entire 
abolition of slavery and probably you wou'd find many American sub- 
jects that wou'd be willing to promote such regulations, tho' the same 
people wou'd strenuously oppose the scheme of a total abolition of 
slavery. I have never seen an account of the Spanish regulations in writing, 
but I understand that they are to the following effect: As soon as a slave 
is landed, his name, price, &c. are register'd in a public office, and the 
master is obliged to allow him one working day in every week to him- 
self, besides Sundays, so that if the slave chuses to work for his master 
on that day, he receives the wages of a freeman for it, and whatever he 
gains by his labor on that day, is so secured to him by law, that the 
master cannot deprive him of it. This is certainly a considerable step 
towards the abolishing absolute slavery. As soon as the slave is able to 
purchase another working day, the master is obliged to sell it to him at 
a proportionable price, viz. i -fifth part of his original cost: and so like- 
wise the remaining 4 days at the same rate, as soon as the slave is able 
to redeem them, after which he is absolutely free. This is such an en- 
couragement to industry, that even the most indolent are tempted to 
exert themselves. Men who have thus worked out their freedom are 
inured to the labor of the country and are certainly the most useful 
subjects that a colony can acquire. Regulations might be formed upon 
the same plan to encourage the industry of slaves that are already im- 
ported into the colonies, which would teach them how to maintain them- 
selves and be as useful, as well as less expensive to the planter. They 
would by such means become members or society and have an interest 
in the welfare of the community, which would add greatly to the strength 
and security of each colony; whereas, at present, many of the planters 
are in continual danger of being cut off by their slaves, a fate which, 
they but too justly deserve!" 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 15 

And now my countrymen, What shall I add more to rouse 
up your indignation against slave-keeping. Consider the many 
complicated crimes it involves in it. Think of the bloody wars 
which are fomented by it, among the African nations, or if these 
are too common to affect you, think of the pangs which attend 
the dissolution of the ties of nature in those who are stolen from 
their relations. Think of the many thousands who perish by 
sickness, melancholy and suicide, in their voyages to America. 
Pursue the poor devoted victims to one of the West India 
islands, and see them exposed there to public sale. Hear their 
cries, and see their looks of tenderness at each other upon being 
separated. Mothers are torn from their daughters, and brothers 
from brothers, without the liberty of a parting embrace. Their 
master's name is now marked upon their breasts with a red hot 
iron. But let us pursue them into a sugar field, and behold a 

scene still more affecting than this See! the poor wretches 

with what reluctance they take their instruments of labor into 
their hands. Some of them, overcome with heat and sickness, 

seek to refresh themselves by a little rest, But, behold an 

overseer approaches them. In vain they sue for pity. He 

lifts up his whip, while streams of blood follow every stroke. 
Neither age nor sex are spared. Methinks one of them is a 
woman far advanced in her pregnancy. At a little distance 
from these behold a man, who from his countenance and de- 
portment appears as if he was descended from illustrious an- 
cestors. Yes. He is the son of a prince, and was torn, by a 

stratagem, from an amiable wife and two young children 
Mark his sullen looks! now he bids defiance to the tyranny 
of his master, and in an instant plunges a knife into his heart. 
But, let us return from this Scene, and see the various modes 
of arbitrary punishments inflicted upon them by their masters. 
Behold one covered with stripes, into which melted wax is 
poured another tied down to a block or a stake a third sus- 
pended in the air by his thumbs a fourth obliged to set or stand 

upon red hot iron a fifth, 1 cannot relate it. 

Where now is law or justice? Let us fly to them to step in 



i6 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

for their relief. Alas! The one is silent, and the other 

denounces more terrible punishments upon them. Let us attend 
the place appointed for inflicting the penalties of the law. See 
here one without a limb, whose only crime was an attempt to 
regain his liberty another led to a gallows for eating a morsel 
of bread, to which his labor gave him a better title than his 

master a third famishing on a gibbet a fourth, in a flame 

of fire! his shrieks pierce the heavens. O! God! Where 

is thy vengeance ! O ! humanity j ustice liberty reli- 
gion! Where, where are ye fled.- 



This is no exaggerated picture. It is taken from real life. 

Before I conclude I shall take the liberty of addressing several 
classes of my countrymen in behalf of our brethren (for by that 
name may we now call them) who are in a state of slavery 
among us. 

In the first place let MAGISTRATES both supreme and inferior, 
exert the authority they are invested with, in suppressing this 
evil. Let them discountenance it by their example, and show a 
readiness to concur in every measure proposed to remedy it. 

Let LEGISLATORS, reflect upon the trust reposed in them. Let 
their laws be made after the spirit of religion liberty and our 
most excellent English Constitution. You cannot show your 
attachment to your King or your love to your country better 
than by suppressing an evil which endangers the dominions of 
the former, and will in time destroy the liberty of 'the latter.* 
Population, and the accession of strangers, in which the riches 
of all countries consist, can only flourish in proportion as slavery 
is discouraged. Extend the privileges we enjoy, to every human 
creature born among us, and let not the journals of our assemblies 

* By a late calculation, it appears that there are eight hundred and 
fifty thousand Negro slaves in the British colonies and islands. From the 
number and burden of ships which are sent from England to Africa for 
slaves, we can with a good deal of certainty, conclude, that there are not 
less than one hundred thousand of them imported into America every 
year. By particular enquiry it was found, that one hundred and four 
thousand were imported in the year 1768. 

"In moderate governments, it is a point of the highest importance, 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 17 

be disgraced with the records of laws, which allow exclusive 
privileges to men of one color in preference to another.* 

Ye men of sense and virtue Ye advocates for Ameri- 
can liberty, rouse up and espouse the cause of humanity and 
general liberty. Bear a testimony against a vice which degrades 
human nature, and dissolves that universal tie of benevolence 
which should connect all the children of men together in one 

great family. The plant of liberty is of so tender a nature, 

that it cannot thrive long in the neighbourhood of slavery. Re- 
member the eyes of all Europe are fixed upon you, to preserve 
an asylum for freedom in this country, after the last pillars of 
it are fallen in every other quarter of the globe. 

But chiefly ye ministers of the gospel, whose dominion 

over the principles and actions of men is so universally acknowl- 
edged and felt, Ye who estimate the worth of your fellow 

creatures by their immortality, and therefore must look upon all 
mankind as equal; let your zeal keep pace with your oppor- 
tunities to put a stop to slavery. While you inforce the duties 
of "tithe and cummin," neglect not the weightier laws of justice 
and humanity. Slavery is an Hydra sin, and includes in it every 
violation of the precepts of the Law and the Gospel. In vain will 
you command your flocks to offer up the incense of faith and 

that there should not be a great number of slaves. The political liberty 
of those states adds to the value of civil liberty; and he who is deprived 
of the latter, is also deprived of the former. He sees the happiness of a 
society, of which he is not so much as a member; he sees the security of 
others fenced by laws, himself without so much protection. He sees his 
master has a soul, that can enlarge itself; while his own is constrained to 
submit to almost continual depression. Nothing more assimilates a man 
to a beast, than living among freemen, himself a slave. Such people as 
these are the natural enemies of a society, and their number must be 
dangerous." 

Spirit of Laws, Book xv. Chap. 12. 

* The alterations in the laws in favour of Negroes, should be gradual, 
'till the evil habits they have acquired by slavery, are eradicated. There 
are several privileges, however, which might be extended to them imme- 
diately, without the least risk to society, in particular that inestimable one 
of trial by juries. 



1 8 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

charity, while they continue to mingle the sweat and blood of 

Negro slaves with their sacrifices. If the blood of Abel cried 

aloud for vengeance; If, under the Jewish dispensation, cities 
of refuge could not screen the deliberate murderer if even 
manslaughter required sacrifices to expiate it, and if a single 
murder so seldom escapes with impunity in any civilized coun- 
try, what may you not say against that trade, or those manu- 
factures or laws,* which destroy the lives of so many thousands 

of our fellow-creatures every year? If in the Old Testament 

"God swears by his holiness, and by the excellency of Jacob, 
that the earth shall tremble, and every one mourn that dwelleth 
therein for the iniquity of those who oppress the poor and crush 
the needy," "who buy the poor with silver, and the needy with 
a pair of shoes,"f what judgments may you not denounce upon 
those who continue to perpetrate these crimes, after the more 
full discovery wliich God has made of the law of equity in the 
New Testament. Put them in mind of the rod which was held 
over them a few years ago in the Stamp and Revenue Acts. 
Remember that national crimes require national punishments, 
and without declaring what punishment awaits this evil, you 
may venture to assure them, that it cannot pass with impunity, 
unless God shall cease to be just or merciful. 

* "If any Negro or other slave under punishment by his master, or 
his order for running away, or any other crimes or misdemeanors towards 
his said master, unfortunately shall suffer in life or member, no person 
whatever shall be liable to any fine; But if any man shall of wantonness, 
or only of bloody mindedness, or cruel intention, wilfully kill a Negro, 
or other slave of his own, he shall deliver into the public treasury fifteen 
pounds sterling, and not be liable to any other punishment, or forfeiture 
for the same." 

Laws of Barbadoes, Act 329. 

t Amos iv. i, 2. viii. 6, 7. 



A PLAN OF A PEACE-OFFICE 
FOR THE UNITED STATES 



AMONG THE defects which have been pointed out in the Federal 
Constitution by its antifederal enemies, it is much to be lamented 
that no person has taken notice of its total silence upon the 
subject of an office of the utmost importance to the welfare of 
the United States, that is, an office for promoting and preserving 
perpetual peace in our country. 

It is to be hoped that no objection will be made to the estab- 
lishment of such an office, while we are engaged in a war with 
the Indians, for as the War-Office of the United States was 
established in the time of peace, it is equally reasonable that a 
Peace-Office should be established in the time of ivar. 

The plan of this office is as follows: 

I. Let a Secretary of the Peace be appointed to preside in 
this office, who shall be perfectly free from all the present ab- 
surd and vulgar European prejudices upon the subject of gov- 
ernment; let him be a genuine republican and a sincere Christian, 
for the principles of republicanism and Christianity are no less 
friendly to universal and perpetual peace, than they are to uni- 
versal and equal liberty. 

II. Let a power be given to this Secretary to establish and 
maintain free-schools in every city, village and township of the 
United States; and let him be made responsible for the talents, 
principles, and morals, of all his schoolmasters. Let the youth 
of our country be carefully instructed in reading, writing, 

19 



20 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

arithmetic, and in the doctrines of a religion of some kind: the 
Christian religion should be preferred to all others; for it belongs 
to this religion exclusively to teach us not only to cultivate peace 
with men, but to forgive, nay more to love our very enemies. 
It belongs to it further to teach us that the Supreme Being alone 
possesses a power to take away human life, and that we rebel 
against his laws, whenever we undertake to execute death in any 
way whatever upon any of his creatures. 

III. Let every family in the United States be furnished at 
the public expense, by the Secretary of this office, with a copy 
of an American edition of the BIBLE. This measure has become 
the more necessary in our country, since the banishment of the 
bible, as a school-book, from most of the schools in the United 
States. Unless the price of this book be paid for by the public, 
there is reason to fear that in a few years it will t>e met with 
only in courts of justice or in magistrates' offices; and should 
the absurd mode of establishing truth by kissing this sacred book 
fall into disuse, it may probably, in the course of the next 
generation, be seen only as a curiosity on a shelf in a public 
museum. 

IV. Let the following sentence be inscribed in letters of gold 
over the doors of every State and Court house in the United 
States. 

THE SON OF MAN CAME INTO THE WORLD, NOT TO DESTROY 
MEN'S LIVES, BUT TO SAVE THEM. 

V. To inspire a veneration for human life, and an horror 
at the shedding of human blood, let all those laws be repealed 
which authorise juries, judges, sheriffs, or hangmen to assume 
the resentments of individuals and to commit murder in cold 
blood in any case whatever. Until this reformation in our code 
of penal jurisprudence takes place, it will be in vain to attempt 
to introduce universal and perpetual peace in our country. 

VI. To subdue that passion for war, which education, added 
to human depravity, have made universal, a familiarity with the 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 21 

I 

instruments of death, as well as all military shows, should be 
carefully avoided. For which reason, militia laws should every 
where be repealed, and military dresses and military titles should 
be laid aside: reviews tend to lessen the horrors of a battle by 
connecting them with the charms of order; militia laws generate 
idleness and vice, and thereby produce the wars they are said 
to prevent; military dresses fascinate the minds of young men, 
and lead them from serious and useful professions; were there 
no imiforms, there would probably be no armies; lastly, military 
titles feed vanity, and keep up ideas in the mind which lessen 
a sense of the folly and miseries of war. 

VII. In the last place, let a large room, adjoining the federal 
hall, be appropriated for transacting the business and preserving 
all the records of this office. Over the door of this room let there 
be a sign, on which the figures of a LAMB, a DOVE and an OLIVE 
BRANCH should be painted, together with the following inscrip- 
tions in letters of gold: 

PEACE ON EARTH GOOD-WILL TO MAN. 
AH! WHY WILL MEN FORGET THAT THEY ARE 
BRETHREN? 

Within this apartment let there be a collection of plough- 
shares and pruning-hooks made out of swords and speaks; and 
on each of the walls of the apartment, the following pictures 
as large as the life: 

1. A lion eating straw with an ox, and an adder playing 
upon the lips of a child. 

2. An Indian boiling his venison in the same pot with a citizen 
of Kentucky. 

3. Lord Cornwallis and Tippoo Saib, under the shade of a 
sycamore-tree in the East Indies, drinking Madeira wine together 
out of the same decanter. 

4. A group of French and Austrian soldiers dancing arm and 
arm, under a bower erected in the neighbourhood of Mons. 



22 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

5. A St. Domingo planter, a man of color, and a native of 
Africa, legislating together in the same colonial assembly.* 

To complete the entertainment of this delightful apartment, 
let a group of young ladies, clad in white robes, assemble every 
day at a certain hour, in a gallery to be erected for the purpose, 
and sing odes, and hymns, and anthems in praise of the blessings 
of peace. 

One of these songs should consist of the following lines. 

Peace o'er the world her olive wand extends, 
And white-rob'd innocence from heaven descends; 
All crimes shall cease, and ancient frauds shall fail, 
Returning justice lifts aloft her scale. 

In order more deeply to affect the minds of the citizens of 
the United States with the blessings of peace, by contrasting 
them with the evils of war, let the following inscriptions be 
painted upon the sign, which is placed over the door of the War 
Office. 

1. An office for butchering the human species. 

2. A Widow and Orphan making office. 

3. A broken bone making office. 

4. A Wooden leg making office. 

5. An office for creating public and private vices. 

6. An office for creating a public debt. 

7. An office for creating speculators, stock jobbers, and 
bankrupts. 

8. An office for creating famine. 

9. An office for creating pestilential diseases. 

10. An office for creating poverty, and the destruction of 
liberty, and national happiness. 

In the lobby of this office let there be painted representations 

* At the time of writing this, there existed wars between the United 
States and the American Indians, between the British nation and Tippoo 
Saib, between the planters of St Domingo and their African slaves, and 
between the French nation and the emperor of Germany. 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 23 

of all the common military instruments of death, also human 
skulls, broken bones, unburied and putrefying dead bodies, hos- 
pitals crowded with sick and wounded soldiers, villages on fire, 
mothers in besieged towns eating the flesh of their children, ships 
sinking in the ocean, rivers dyed with blood, and extensive plains 
without a tree or fence, or any other object, but the ruins of 
deserted farm houses. 

Above this group of woeful figures, let the following words 
be inserted, in red characters to represent human blood, 



'NATIONAL GLORY." 



ON HELPING THE AFRICANS 

From a Letter to Granville Sharp 



SINCE OUR correspondence began, in the year 1771, what wonder- 
ful things have come to pass in favor of our friends the poor 
Africans! In Pennsylvania our laws have exterminated domestic 
Slavery, and in Philadelphia the free blacks now compose near 
3,000 souls. Their men are chiefly waiters day-labourers and 
traders in a small way. Their women are chiefly cooks and 
washer-women. Such is their integrity, and quiet deportment, 
that they are universally preferred to white people of similar 
occupations. But under these circumstances they are still in a 
state of depression, arising chiefly from their being deprived of 
the means of regular education, and religious instruction. To 
remedy these inconveniences, a few gentlemen in this city have 
assisted in forming them into a church, to be called The African 
Church of Philadelphia. As they consist of the scattered ap- 
pendages of most of the churches in the city, they have formed 
articles and a plan of church government so general as to em- 
brace all, and yet so orthodox in cardinal points as to offend none. 
They have already been assisted in purchasing a valuable lot, in 
a centrical part of our city, on which they propose this fall to 
build a frame school-house, and in the spring (if they are further 
assisted) they wish to erect a plain brick church. They have 
already began to worship God in a borrowed school-house, where 
they assemble on Sundays. Two or three of their own colour 
conduct the worship, by reading the Scriptures, praying, singing, 
and occasionally exhorting. Hereafter they propose to have a 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 25 

regular minister: in the meanwhile, the Rev. Mr. Pilmore, a 
worthy episcopal minister of this city, has promised to officiate 
for them occasionally. Much good may be expected from this 
institution. Indeed much good has already arisen from it; for it 
has produced a degree of order, and a spirit of inquiry and 
thoughtfulness in religion never evinced by them before. 

I come now to the design of this long letter, which is to solicit 
your influence, among the friends of the Blacks in London, in 
obtaining a small contribution towards building the proposed 
African Church in our city. It may produce consequences far 
beyond our present expectations, or even comprehensions. 

It is true the Blacks are not of your country. But what then? 
You have pleaded the cause of the Africans in their native coun- 
try. By helping them here, you will only change the place, but 
not the objects of your benevolence. The favor I now solicit 
for them is more substantial than even freedom itself. It will 
place them in a condition to make their freedom a blessing to 
them here, and prepare them for happiness beyond the grave. 

In spreading the blessings of liberty, and religion, our Divine 
Master forbids us, in many of his parables and precepts, to have 
either friends or country. The globe is the native country, and 
the whole human race, the fellow-citizens of a Christian. This 
sentiment, I am sure, will accord with the feelings of your heart 
for you have long exemplified it by your life and conversation. 

From, my dear friend, 

Your affectionate fellow-labourer, 

And sincere friend and servant, 

BENJAMIN RUSH. 



ON THE DEFECTS OF THE 
CONFEDERATION 



THERE is nothing more common than to confound the terms of 

the American Revolution with those of the late American War. 

% 

The American War is over: but this is far from being the case 
with the American Revolution. On the contrary, nothing but 
the first act of the great drama is closed. It remains yet to estab- 
lish and perfect our new forms of government; and to prepare 
the principles, morals, and manners of our citizens, for these 
forms of government, after they are established and brought to 
perfection. 

The Confederation, together with most of our state constitu- 
tions, were formed under very unfavorable circumstances. We 
had just emerged from a corrupted monarchy. Although we un- 
derstood perfectly the principles of liberty, yet most of us were 
ignorant of the forms and combinations of power in republics. 
Add to this, the British army was in the heart of our country, 
spreading desolation wherever it went: our resentments, of 
course, were awakened. We detested the British name, and 
unfortunately refused to copy some things in the administration 
of justice and power, in the British government, which have 
made it the admiration and envy of the world. In our opposition 
to monarchy, we forgot that the temple of tyranny has two 
doors. We bolted one of them by proper restraints: but we left 
the other open, by neglecting to guard against the effects of our 
own ignorance and licentiousness. 

26 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 27 

Most of the present difficulties of this country arise from 
the weakness and other defects of our governments. 

My business at present shall be only to suggest the defects 
of the Confederation. These consist, ist, In the deficiency of 
coercive power, zd, In a defect of exclusive power to issue paper 
money, and regulate commerce. 3d, In vesting the sovereign 
power of the United States in a single legislature: and 4th, In 
the too frequent rotation of its members. 

A convention is to sit soon * for the purpose of devising 
means of obviating part of the two first defects that have been 
mentioned. But I wish they may add to their recommendations 
to each state, to surrender up to Congress their power of emit- 
ting money. In this way, uniform currency will be produced, 
that will facilitate trade, and help to bind the states together. 
Nor will the states be deprived of large sums of money by this 
means when sudden emergencies require it: for they may always 
borrow them as they did during the war, out of the treasury 
of Congress. Even a loan-office may be better instituted in this 
way in each state, than in any other. 

The two last defects that have been mentioned, are not 
of less magnitude than the first. Indeed, the single legislature 
of Congress will become more dangerous from an increase of 
power than ever. To remedy this, let the supreme federal power 
be divided, like the legislatures of most of our states, into two dis- 
tinct, independent branches. Let one of them be styled the 
Council of the States, and the other the Assembly of the States. 
Let the first consist of a single delegate, and the second, of 
two, three, or four delegates, chosen annually by each state. 
Let the president be chosen annually by the joint ballots of 
both houses, and let him possess certain powers in conjunction 
with a privy council, especially the power of appointing most 
of the officers of the United States. The officers will not only 
be better when appointed this way, but one of the principal 
causes of faction will be thereby removed from congress. I 

* May 1787, in Philadelphia. 



28 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

apprehend this division of the power of Congress will become 
more necessary, as soon as they are invested with more ample 
powers of levying and expending public money. 

The custom of turning men out of power or office, as soon 
as they are qualified for it, has been found to be as absurd in 
practice, as it is virtuous in speculation. It contradicts our habits 
and opinions in every other transaction of life. Do we dismiss a 
general a physician or even a domestic as soon as they have 
acquired knowledge enough to be useful to us, for the sake of 
increasing the number of able generals skilful physicians and 
faithful servants? We do not. Government is a science; and can 
never be perfected in America, until we encourage men to de- 
vote not only three years, but their whole lives to it. I believe 
the principal reason why so many men of abilities object to 
serving in Congress, is owing to their not thinking it worth 
while to spend three years in acquiring a profession which 
their country immediately afterwards forbids them to fol- 
low. 

There are two errors or prejudices on the subject of govern- 
ment in America, which lead to the most dangerous conse- 
quences. 

It is often said that "the sovereign and all other power is 
seated in the people." This idea is unhappily expressed. It should 
be "all power is derived from the people." They possess it 
only on the days of their elections. After this, it is the property 
of thek rulers, nor can they exercise or resume it, unless it is 
abused. It is of importance to circulate this idea, as it leads to 
order and good government. 

The people of America have mistaken the meaning of the 
word sovereignty: hence each state pretends to be sovereign. 
In Europe it is applied only to those states which possess the 
power of making war and peace of forming treaties, and the 
like. As this power belongs only to Congress, they are the only 
sovereign power in the United States. 

We commit a similar mistake in our ideas of the word in- 
dependent. No individual state as such has any claim to inde- 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 29 

pendence. She is independerjt only in a union with her sister 
states in Congress. 

To conform the principles, morals, and manners of our citi- 
zens to our republican forms of government, it is absolutely 
necessary that knowledge of every kind, should be disseminated 
through every part of the United States. 

For this purpose, let Congress, instead of laying out half a 
million of dollars in building a federal town, appropriate only a 
fourth part of that sum, in founding a federal university. In this 
university, let every thing connected with government, such as 
history the law of nature and nations the civil law the mu- 
nicipal laws of our country and the principles of commerce, be 
taught by competent professors. Let masters be employed like- 
wise to teach gunnery fortification and every thing con- 
nected with defensive and offensive war. Above all, let a pro- 
fessor, of what is called in the European universities, economy, 
be established in this federal seminary. His business should be 
to unfold the principles and practice of agriculture and manu- 
factures of all kinds; and to enable him to make his lectures 
more extensively useful, Congress should support a travelling 
correspondent for him, who should visit all the nations of Europe, 
and transmit to him, from time to time, all the discoveries and 
improvements that are made in agriculture and manufactures. To 
this seminary young men should be encouraged to repair, after 
completing their academical studies in the colleges of their re- 
spective states. The honors and offices of the United States 
should, after a while, be confined to persons who had imbibed 
federal and republican ideas in this university. 

For the purpose of diffusing knowledge, as well as extend- 
ing the living principle of government to every part of the 
United States; every state city county village and town- 
ship in the union, should be tied together by means of the post- 
office. This is the true non-electric wire of government. It is 
the only means of conveying heat and light to every individual 
in the federal commonwealth. Sweden lost her liberties, says the 
Abbe Raynal, because her citizens were so scattered, that they 



3 o SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

had no means of acting in concert with each other. It should 
be a constant injunction to the postmasters to convey newspapers 
free of all charge for postage. They are not only the vehicles 
of knowledge and intelligence, but the sentinels of the liberties 
of our country. 

The conduct of some of those strangers who have visited 
our country, since the peace, and who fill the British papers 
with accounts of our distresses, shows as great a want of good 
sense, as it does of good nature. They fear nothing; but the 
foundations and walls of the temple of liberty, and yet they 
undertake to judge of the whole fabric. 

Our own citizens act a still more absurd part, when they 
cry out, after the experience of three or four years, that we 
are not proper materials for republican government. Remem- 
ber, we assumed these forms of government in a hurry, before 
we were prepared for them. Let every man exert himself in 
promoting virtue and knowledge in our country, and we shall 
soon become good republicans. Look at the steps by which 
governments have been changed or rendered stable in Europe. 
Read the history of Great Britain. Her boasted government has 
risen out of wars and rebellions that lasted above sixty years. 
The United States are travelling peaceably into order and good 
government. They know no strife but what arises from the 
collision of opinions: and in three years, they have advanced 
further in the road to stability and happiness, than most of the 
nations in Europe have done, in as many centuries. 

There is but one path that can lead the United States to 
destruction, and that is their extent of territory. It was probably 
to effect this, that Great Britain ceded to us so much waste land. 
But even this path may be avoided. Let but one new state be 
exposed to sale at a time; and let the land office be shut up till 
every part of this new state is settled. 

I am extremely sorry to find a passion for retirement so uni- 
versal among the patriots and heroes of the war. They resemble 
skilful mariners, who, after exerting themselves to preserve a 
ship from sinking in a storm, in the middle of the ocean, drop 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 31 

asleep as soon as the waves subside, and leave the care of their 
lives and property, during the remainder of the voyage to sailors 
without knowledge or experience. Every man in a republic is 
public property. His time and talents his youth his manhood 
his old age nay more, life, all, belong to his country. 

Patriots of 1774, 1775, 1776* heroes of 1778, 1779, 1780! 
come forward! your country demands your services. Philoso- 
phers and friends to mankind, come forward! your country 
demands your studies and speculations! Lovers of peace and 
order, who declined taking part in the late war, come forward! 
your country forgives your timidity, and demands your influ- 
ence and advice! Hear her proclaiming in sighs and groans, 
in her governments, in her finances, in her trade, in her manu- 
factures, in her morals, and in her manners, "The revolution is 
not over!" 



ON SECURITIES FOR LIBERTY 

Letter from Dr. Rush, to Dr. Ramsay 



DEAR SIR, 

I presume, before this time, you have heard, and rejoiced 
in the auspicious event of the ratification of the Federal Govern- 
ment by six of the United States. 

The objections, which have been urged against the Federal 
Constitution, from its wanting a Bill of Rights, have been 
reasoned and ridiculed out of credit in every state that has 
adopted it. There can be only two securities for liberty in any 
government, viz. representation and checks. By the first, the 
rights of the people, and by the second, the rights of representa- 
tion are effectually secured. Every part of a free constitution 
hangs upon these two points; and these form the two capital 
features of the proposed Constitution of the United States. With- 
out them, a volume of rights would avail nothing; and with them, 
a declaration of rights is absurd and unnecessary: for the people, 
where their liberties are committed to an equal representation, 
and to a compound legislature, such as we observe in the new gov- 
ernment, will always be the sovereigns of their rulers, and hold all 
their rights in their own hands. To hold them at the mercy of 
their servants, is disgraceful to the dignity of freemen. Men, who 
call for a Bill of Rights, have not recovered from the habits they 
acquired under the monarchical government of Great Britain. 

I have the same opinion with the Antif ederalists, of the danger 
of trusting arbitrary power to any single body of men: but no 
such power will be committed to our new rulers. Neither the 

3* 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 33 

House of Representatives, the Senate, or the President, can per- 
form a single legislative act by themselves. An hundred principles 
in man will lead them to watch, to check, and to oppose each 
other, should an attempt be made by either of them upon the 
liberties of the people. If we may judge of their conduct, by what 
we have so often observed in all the state-governments, the mem- 
bers of the Federal legislature will much oftener injure their 
constituents, by voting agreeably to their inclinations, than 
against them. 

But are we to consider men entrusted with power, as the 
receptacles of all the depravity of human nature? by no means. 
The people do not part with their full proportions of it. Reason 
and revelation both deceive us, if they are all wise and virtuous. 
Is not history as full of the vices of the people, as it is of the 
cymes of the kings? what is the present moral character of the 
citizens of the United States? I need not describe it. It proves 
too plainly that the people are as much disposed to vice as their 
rulers; and that nothing but a vigorous and efficient government 
can prevent their degenerating into savages, or devouring each 
other like beasts of prey. 

A simple democracy has been very aptly compared by Mr. 
Ames, of Massachusetts, to a volcano that contained within its 
bowels the fiery materials of its own destruction. A citizen of 
one of the cantons of Switzerland, in the year 1776, refused in 
my presence to drink "the commonwealth of America" as a toast, 
and gave as a reason for it, "that a simple democracy was the 
devil's own government." The experience of the American states, 
under the present Confederation, has, in too many instances, 
justified these two accounts of a simple popular government. 

It would have been a truth, if Mr. Locke had not said it, that 
where there is no law, there can be no liberty; and nothing de- 
serves the name of law but that which is certain, and universal 
in its operation, upon all the members of the community. 

To look up to a government that establishes justice, insures 
order, cherishes virtue, secures property, and protects from every 
species of violence, affords a pleasure that can only be exceeded 



34 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

by looking up, in all circumstances, to an over-ruling Providence. 
Such a pleasure, I hope, is before us and our posterity, under 
the influence of the new government. 

The dimensions of the human mind are apt to be regulated 
by the extent and objects of the government under which it is 
formed. Think then, my friend, of the expansion and dignity the 
American mind will acquire, by having its powers transferred 
from the contracted objects of a state, to the more unbounded 
objects of a national government? A citizen and a legislator of 
the free and United States of America, will be one of the first 
characters in the world. 

I would not have you suppose, after what I have written, 
that I believe the new government to be without fault. I can see 
them yet not in any of the writings or speeches of the persons 
who are opposed to it. But who ever saw any thing perfect come 
from the hands of man? it realises, notwithstanding, in a great 
degree, every wish I ever entertained, in every stage of the Revo- 
lution, for the happiness of my country; for you know, that I 
have acquired no new opinions or principles, upon the subject 
of republics, by the sorrowful events we have lately witnessed 
in America. In the year 1776, I lost the confidence of the people 
of Pennsylvania, by openly exposing the dangers of a simple 
democracy, and declaring myself an advocate for a government 
composed of three legislative branches. 



ON PUNISHING MURDER BY 
DEATH 



IN AN ESSAY upon the effects of public punishments upon crimi- 
nals and upon society, published in the second volume of the 
American Museitm, I hinted, in a short paragraph, at the injustice 
of punishing murder by death. I shall attempt in the following 
essay, to support that opinion, and to answer all the objections 
that have been urged against it. 

I. Every man possesses an absolute power over his own lib- 
erty and property, but not over his own life. When he becomes 
a member of political society, he commits the disposal of his 
liberty and property to his fellow citizens; but as he has no right 
to dispose of his life, he cannot commit the power over it to any 
body of men. To take away life, therefore, for any crime, is a 
violation of the first political compact. 

II. The punishment of murder by death, is contrary to reason, 
and to the order and happiness of society. 

1. It lessens the horror of taking away human life, and 
thereby tends to multiply murders. 

2. It produces murder, by its influence upon people who are 
tired of life, and who, from a supposition, that murder is a less 
crime than suicide, destroy a life (and often that of a near con- 
nexion) and afterwards deliver themselves up to justice, that 
they may escape from their misery by means of a halter. 

3. The punishment of murder by death, multiplies murders, 
from the difficulty it creates of convicting persons who are guilty 
of it. Humanity, revolting at the idea of the severity and certainty 

35 



36 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

of a capital punishment, often steps in, and collects such evidence 
in favour of a murderer, as screens him from justice altogether, 
or palliates his crime into manslaughter. If the punishment of 
murder consisted in long confinement, and hard labor, it would 
be proportioned by the measure of our feelings of justice, and 
every member of society would be a watchman or a magistrate, 
to apprehend a destroyer of human life, and to bring him to 
punishment. 

4. The punishment of murder by death, checks the opera- 
tions of universal justice, by preventing the punishment of every 
species of murder. Quack doctors frauds of various kinds and 
a licentious press, often destroy life, and sometimes with malice 
of the most propense nature. If murder were punished by con- 
finement and hard labour, the authors of the numerous murders 
that have been mentioned, would be dragged forth, and punished 
according to their deserts. How much order and happiness would 
arise to society from such a change in human affairs! But who 
will attempt to define these species of murder, or to prosecute 
offenders of this stamp, if death is to be the punishment of the 
crime after it is admitted, and proved to be wilful murder? 
only alter the punishment of murder, and these crimes will soon 
assume their proper names, and probably soon become as rare 
as murder from common acts of violence. 

5. The punishment of murder by death, has been proved to 
be contrary to the order and happiness of society by the experi- 
ments of some of the wisest legislators in Europe. The Empress 
of Russia, the King of Sweden, and the Duke of Tuscany, have 
nearly extirpated murder from their dominions, by converting 
its punishment into the means of benefiting society, and reform- 
ing the criminals who perpetrate it. 

III. The punishment of murder by death, is contrary to divine 
revelation. A religion which commands us to forgive and even 
to do good to our enemies, can never authorise the punishment 
of murder by death. "Vengeance is mine," said the Lord; "I will 
repay." It is to no purpose to say here, that this vengeance is 
taken out of the hands of an individual, and directed against the 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 37 

criminal by the hand of government. It is equally an usurpation 
of the prerogative of heaven, whether it be inflicted by a single 
person, or by a whole community. 

Here I expect to meet with an appeal from the letter and 
spirit of the gospel, to the law of Moses, which declares, that 
"he that killeth a man shall surely be put to death." Forgive, 
indulgent heaven! the ignorance and cruelty of man, which by 
the misapplication of this text of scripture, has so long and so 
often stained the religion of Jesus Christ with folly and revenge. 

The following considerations, I hope, will prove that no argu- 
ment can be deduced from this law, to justify the punishment 
of murder by death. On the contrary, that several arguments 
against it, may be derived from a just and rational explanation 
of that part of the levitical institutions. 

1. There are many things in scripture above, but nothing 
contrary to reason. Now, the punishment of murder by death, 
is contrary to reason. It cannot, therefore, be agreeable to the 
will of God. 

2. The order and happiness of society cannot fail of being 
agreeable to the will of God. But the punishment of murder 
by death, destroys the order and happiness of society. It must 
therefore be contrary to the will of God. 

3. Many of the laws given by Moses, were accommodated 
to the ignorance and "hardness of heart" of the ancient Jews. 
Hence their divine legislator expressly says, "I gave them 
statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should 
not live" Of this, the law which respects divorces, and the law 
of retaliation, which required "an eye for an eye, and a tooth 
for a tooth," are remarkable instances. 

But we are told, that the punishment of murder by death, 
is founded not only on the law of Moses, but upon a positive 
precept given to Noah and his posterity, that "whoso sheddeth 
man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." In order to show 
that this text does not militate against my proposition, I shall 
beg leave to transcribe a passage from an essay on crimes and 
punishments, published by the Reverend Mr. Turner, in the 



38 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

second volume of the Manchester memoirs. "I hope," says this 
ingenious author, "that I shall not offend any one, by taking the 
liberty to put my own sense upon this celebrated passage, and 
to inquire, why it should be deemed a precept at all. To me, 
I confess, it appears to contain nothing more than a declaration 
of what will generally happen; and in this view, to stand ex- 
actly upon the same ground with such passages as the follow- 
ing: "He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity." 
"He that taketh up the sword, shall perish by the sword." * 
The form of expression is exactly the same in each of the texts; 
why, then, may they not all be interpreted in the same manner, 
and considered, not as commands, but as denunciations, and if 
so, the magistrate will be no more bound by the text in Genesis, 
to punish murder with death, than he will by the text in the 
Revelations, to sell every Guinea captain to our West India 
planters; and yet, however just and proper such a proceeding 
might be, I suppose no one will assert that the magistrate is 
bound to it by that, or any other text in the scriptures, or that 
that alone would be admitted as a sufficient reason for so extraor- 
dinary a measure." 

If this explanation of the precept given to Noah, be not 
satisfactory, I shall mention another. Soon after the flood, the 
infancy and weakness of society rendered it impossible to punish 
murder by confinement. There was therefore no medium be- 
tween inflicting death upon a murderer, and suffering him to 
escape with impunity, and thereby to perpetrate more acts of 
violence against his fellow creatures. It pleased God in this con- 
dition of the world to permit a less in order to prevent a greater 
evil. He therefore commits for a while his exclusive power over 
human life, to his creatures for the safety and preservation of 
an* infant society, which might otherwise have perished, and 
with it, the only stock of the human race. The command in- 
directly implies that the crime of murder was not punished by 
death in the mature state of society which existed before the 
flood. Nor is this the only instance upon record in the scriptures 

* Rev. xv, 10. 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 39 

in which God has delegated his power over human life to his 
creatures. Abraham expresses no surprise at the command which 
God gave him to sacrifice his son. He submits to it as a precept 
founded in reason and natural justice, for nothing could be more 
obvious than that the giver of life had a right to claim it when 
and in such manner as he pleased. 'Till men are able to give 
life, it becomes them to tremble at the thought of taking it away. 
Will a man rob God? Yes he robs him of what is infinitely 
dear to him of his darling attribute of mercy , every time he 
deprives a fellow creature of life. 

4. If the Mosaic law with respect to murder, be obligatory 
upon Christians, it follows that it is equally obligatory upon 
them to punish adultery, blasphemy, and other capital crimes 
that are mentioned in the levitical law, by death. Nor is this all: 
it justifies the extirpation of the Indians, and the enslaving of the 
Africans; for the command to the Jews to destroy the Canaan- 
ites, and to make slaves of their heathen neighbours, is as positive 
as the command which declares, "that he that killeth a man, 
shall surely be put to death." 

5. Every part of the levitical law, is full of types of the 
Messiah. May not the punishment of death, inflicted by it, be in- 
tended to represent the demerit and consequences of sin, as the 
cities of refuge were the offices of the Messiah? 

6. The imperfection and severity of these laws were prob- 
ably intended farther to illustrate the perfection and mildness 
of the gospel dispensation. It is in this manner that God has 
manifested himself in many of his acts. He created darkness first, 
to illustrate by comparison the beauty of light; and he permits 
sin, misery, and death in the moral world, that he may hereafter 
display more illustriously the transcendent glories of righteous- 
ness, happiness, and immortal life. This opinion is favoured by 
St. Paul, who says, "the law made nothing perfect," and that "it 
was a shadow of good things to come." 

How delightful to discover such an exact harmony between 
the dictates of reason, the order and happiness of society, and 
the precepts of the gospel! There is a perfect unity in truth. 



40 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

Upon all subjects in all ages and in all countries truths of 
every kind agree with each other. 

It has been said, that the common sense of all nations, and 
particularly of savages, is in favour of punishing murder by 
death. 

The common sense of all nations is in favor of the commerce 
and slavery of their fellow creatures. But this does not take away 
from their immorality. Could it be proved that the Indians 
punish murder by death, it would not establish the right of man 
over the life of a fellow creature, for revenge we know in its 
utmost extent is the universal and darling passion of all savage 
nations. The practice moreover, (if it exist) must have originated 
in necessity; for a people who have no settled place of residence, 
and who are averse from all labour, could restrain murder in no 
other way. But I am disposed to doubt whether the Indians 
punish murder by death among their own tribes. In all those 
cases where a life is taken away by an Indian of a foreign tribe, 
they always demand the satisfaction of life for life. But this 
practice is founded on a desire of preserving a balance in their 
numbers and power; for among nations which consist of only a 
few warriors, the loss of an individual often destroys this bal- 
ance, and thereby exposes them to war or extermination. It is 
for the same purpose of keeping up an equality in numbers and 
power, that they often adopt captive children into their nations 
and families. What makes this explanation of the practice of 
punishing murder by death among the Indians more probable, is, 
that we find the same bloody and vindictive satisfaction is re- 
quired of a foreign nation, whether the person lost, be killed 
by an accident, or by premeditated violence. Many facts might 
be mentioned from travellers to prove that the Indians do not 
punish murder by death within the jurisdiction of their own 
tribes. I shall mention only one which is taken from the Rev. 
Mr. John Megapolensis's account of the Mohawk Indians, lately 
published in Mr. Hazard's historical collection of state papers. 
"There is no punishment, (says our author) here for murder, 
but every one is his own avenger. The friends of the deceased 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 41 

revenge themselves upon the murderer until peace is made with 
the next akin. But although they are so cruel, yet there are not 
half so many murders committed among them as among Chris- 
tians, notwithstanding their severe laws, and heavy penalties." 

It has been said, that the horrors of a guilty conscience pro- 
claim the justice and necessity of death, as a punishment for 
murder. I draw an argument of another nature from this fact. 
Are the horrors of conscience the punishment that God inflicts 
upon murder? why, then, should we shorten or destroy them 
by death, especially as we are taught to direct the most atrocious 
murderers to expect pardon in the future world? no, let us not 
counteract the government of God in the human breast: let the 
murderer live but let it be to suffer the reproaches of a guilty 
conscience: let him live, to make compensation to society for the 
injury he has done it, by robbing it of a citizen: let him live to 
maintain the family of the man whom he has murdered: let him 
live, that the punishment of his crime may become universal: 
and lastly let him live that murder may be extirpated from the 
list of human crimes! 

Let us examine the conduct of the moral ruler of the world 
towards the first murderer: see Cain returning from his field, 
with his hands reeking with the blood of his brother! Do the 
heavens gather blackness, and does a flash of lightning blast him 
to the earth? no. Does his father Adam, the natural legislator 
and judge of the world, inflict upon him the punishment of 
death? No; the infinitely wise God becomes his judge and 
executioner. He expels him from the society of which he was 
a member. H^fixes in his conscience a never-dying worm. He 
subjects him to the necessity of labor; and to secure a duration 
of his punishment, proportioned to his crime, he puts a mark 
or prohibition upon him, to prevent his being put to death, by 
weak and angry men; declaring, at the same time, that " whoso- 
ever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him seven- 
fold." 

Judges, attorneys, witnesses, juries and sheriffs, whose office 
it is to Dunish murder bv death. I beseech vou to cause, and 



42 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

listen to the voice of reason and religion, before you convict 
or execute another fellow-creature for murder! 

But I despair of making such an impression upon the present 
citizens of the United States, as shall abolish the absurd and 
un-Christian practice. From the connection of this essay with the 
valuable documents of the late revolution contained in the Ameri- 
can Museum, it will probably descend to posterity. To you, 
therefore, the unborn generations of the next century, I conse- 
crate this humble tribute to justice. You will enjoy in point of 
knowledge, the meridian of a day, of which we only perceive 
the twilight. You will often review with equal contempt and 
horror, the indolence, ignorance and cruelty of your ancestors. 
The grossest crimes shall not exclude the perpetrators of them 
from your pity. You will pdly comprehend the extent of the 
discoveries and precepts of the gospel, and you will be actuated, 
I hope, by its gentle and forgiving spirit. You will see many 
modern opinions in religion and government turned upside 
downwards, and many new connexions established between 
cause and effect. From the importance and destiny of every 
human soul, you will acquire new ideas of the dignity of human 
nature, and of the infinite value of every act of benevolence 
that has for its object, the bodies, the souls, and the lives of your 
fellow-creatures. You will love the whole human race, for you 
will perceive that you have a common Father, and you will 
learn to imitate him by converting those punishments to which 
their folly or wickedness have exposed them, into the means 
of their reformation and happiness. 

6 

Soon after the above enquiry was published in the American 
Museum, a reply to it made its appearance in the Pennsyl- 
vania Mercury, under the signature of Philochoras; which 
produced the following answer. The principal arguments 
in favour of punishing mwrder by death, contained in the 
reply, are mentioned in the answer, for which reason it was 
not thought necessary to re-publish the whole of the reply 
in the order in which it appeared in the news paper. 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 43 

I have read a reply subscribed Philochoras, to an enquiry into 
the justice and policy of punishing murder by death, published 
some time ago in the Museum. The author of it has attempted 
to justify public and capital punishments, as well as war, by the 
precepts of the gospel. Let not my readers suppose that this 
author is a sceptic or a heathen or that he is in any degree 
unfriendly to Christianity. Far from it he is a minister of the 
gospel and a man of a worthy private as well as public char- 
acter. 

Our author begins his reply by asserting, that the objection 
to the punishment of death for murder, proceeded originally 
from the socinian objection to the great doctrine of the atone- 
ment. Here I must acknowledge my obligations to our author 
for having furnished me with a new argument in favor of my 
principles. I believe in the doctrine of the atonement, not only 
because it is clearly revealed in the Old and New Testaments, 
but because it is agreeable to nature, and reason. Life is the prod- 
uct of death, throughout every part of the animal creation. 
Reason likewise establishes the necessity of the atonement, for 
it has lately taught us in the writings of the Marquis of Beccaria, 
that in a perfect human government there should be no pardon- 
ing power: and experience has taught us that where certainty 
has taken the place of severity of punishment, crimes have evi- 
dently and rapidly diminished in every country. The demands 
of the divine law which made the shedding of blood necessary 
to the remission of sin, is a sublime illustration of the perfection 
of the divine government, and of the love of the Supreme Being 
to his intelligent creatures. But in the demand of life for dis- 
obedience, let the divine law stand alone. Men stand in a very 
different relation to each other, from that which God sustains 
to men. They are all fallible, and deficient in a thousand duties 
which they owe to each other. They are bound, therefore, by 
the precept of doing to others, as they would have them do 
them, to forgive, without a satisfaction, inasmuch as they con- 
stantly require the same forgiveness to be exercised towards 
themselves. To punish murder, therefore, or any other crime, by 



44 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

death, under the gospel dispensation, is to exalt the angry and 
vindictive passions of men to an equality with the perfect law 
of God. It is to place imperfect individuals and corrupted human 
governments, upon the throne of the righteous judge of the 
universe: nay, more it is to make the death of Christ of no 
effect; for every time we punish murder by death, we practi- 
cally deny that it was a full expiation for every sin, and thereby 
exclude ourselves from deriving any benefit from it, for he has 
made the forgiveness of injuries, without any exceptions, whether 
committed against us in our private capacities, or as members of 
a community, the express condition of our title to the forgive- 
ness which he has purchased for us by his death. 

The arguments against the punishment of murder by death, 
from reason, remain on an immoveable foundation. Our author 
has contradicted but has not refuted one of them. I affirmed 
in my former essay, that the punishment of murder by death had 
been abolished in several of the European nations. I wish for the 
honor of our author's profession, he had doubted of this asser- 
tion with more of the meek and gentle spirit of a Christian. To 
satisfy him upon this subject, I shall subjoin the following ex- 
tracts from authorities which are now before me. In the in- 
structions to the commissioners appointed to frame a new code 
of laws for the Russian Empire, by Catharine II. the present 
empress of Russia, I find the following passage. I take great 
pleasure in transcribing it, as the sentiments it contains do so 
much honor not only to the female understanding, but to the 
human mind. 

"Proofs from facts demonstrate to us, that the frequent use 
of capital punishments, never mended the morals of a people. 
Therefore, if I prove the death of a citizen to be neither useful 
nor necessary to society in general, I shall confute those who 
rise up against humanity. In a reign of peace and tranquillity, 
under a government established with the united wishes of a whole 
people, in a state well fortified against external enemies, and pro- 
tected within by strong supports; that is, by its own internal 
strength, and virtuous sentiments, rooted in the minds of the 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 45 

citizens, there can be no necessity for taking away the life of a 
citizen. It is not the excess of severity, nor the destruction of the 
human species, that produces a powerful effect upon the hearts 
of the citizens, but the continued duration of the punishment. 
The death of a malefactor is not so efficacious a method of de- 
terring from wickedness, as the example continually remaining, 
of a man who is deprived of his liberty, that he might repair, 
during a life of labour, the injury he has done to the community. 
The terror of death excited by the imagination may be more 
strong, but has not force enough to resist that oblivion which is 
so natural to mankind. It is a general rule, that rapid and violent 
impressions upon the human mind, disturb and give pain, but 
do not operate long upon the memory. That a punishment, 
therefore, might be conformable with justice, it ought to have 
such a degree of severity as might be sufficient to deter people 
from committing the crime. Hence I presume to affirm, that there 
is no man who, upon the least degree of reflexion, would put 
the greatest possible advantages, he might flatter himself from a 
crime, on the one side, into the balance against a life protracted 
under a total privation of liberty, on the other" 

In a British review for the present year, I find a short account 
of the code of penal laws lately enacted by the emperor of Ger- 
many. This enlightened monarch has divided imprisonment into 
mild severe and rigorous. For the crime of murder, he inflicts 
the punishment of rigorous imprisonment which from its dura- 
tion, and other terrifying circumstances that attend it, is calcu- 
lated to produce more beneficial effects in preventing murders, 
than all the executions that have ever taken place in any age or 
country. 

I derived my information of the abolition of capital punish- 
ment in Sweden and Tuscany, from two foreigners of distinc- 
tion, who lately visited the United States. The one was an Italian 
nobleman, the other was a captain in the Swedish navy both of 
whom commanded every where respect and attachment for their 
abilities and virtues. 

It is true, this happy revolution in favour of justice and hu- 



46 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

manity, in the instances that have been mentioned, did not origi- 
nate in a convocation or a synod. It may either be ascribed to 
the light of the gospel shining in "darkness, which comprehended 
it not" or to the influence of sound and cultivated reason for 
reason and religion have the same objects. They are in no one 
instance opposed to each other. On the contrary, reason is noth- 
ing but imperfect religion, and religion is nothing but perfect 
reason. 

It becomes Christians to beware how far they condemn the 
popular virtue of humanity, because it is recommended by Deists, 
or by persons who do not profess to be bound by the strict 
obligations of Christianity. Voltaire first taught the princes of 
Europe the duty of religious toleration. The Duke of Sully has 
demonstrated the extreme folly of war, and has proved that when 
it has been conducted with the most glory, it never added an 
atom to national happiness. The Marquis of Beccaria has estab- 
lished a connexion between the abolition of capital punishments, 
and the order and happiness of society. Should any thing be 
found in the Scriptures, contrary to these discoveries, it is easy 
to foresee that the principles of the deists and the laws of mod- 
ern legislators will soon have a just preference to the principles 
and precepts of the gospel. 

Our author attempts to support his sanguinary tenets by an 
appeal to revelation. And here I shall make two preliminary 
remarks. 

1. There is no opinion so absurd or impious, that may not be 
supported by solitary texts of scripture. To collect the sense of 
the bible upon any subject, we must be governed by its whole 
spirit and tenor. 

2. The design of Christianity at its first promulgation was 
to reform the world by its spirit rather than by its positive 
precepts. 

Our Saviour does not forbid slavery in direct terms but he 
indirectly bears a testimony against it, by commanding us to do 
to others what we would have them in like circumstances to do 
to us. He did not aim to produce a sudden revolution in the 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 47 

affairs of men. He knew too well the power and efficacy of his 
religion for that purpose. It was unnecessary, therefore, to sub- 
ject it to additional opposition, by a direct attack upon the 
prejudices and interests of mankind, both of which were closely 
interwoven with the texture of their civil governments. 

After these remarks, I shall only add, that the declaration of 
St. Paul before Festus, respecting the punishment of death * and 
the speech of the dying thief on the cross, f only prove that the 
punishment of death was agreeable to the Roman law, but they 
by no means prove that they were sanctioned by the gospel. 
Human life was extremely cheap under the Roman government. 
Of this we need no further proof than the head of John the 
Baptist forming a part of a royal entertainment. From the fre- 
quency of public executions, among those people, the sword 
was considered as an emblem of public justice but to suppose 
from this appeal to a sign of justice, or from our Saviour's para- 
ble of the destruction of the husbandmen, that capital punish- 
ments are approved of in the New Testament, is as absurd as it 
would be to suppose that horseracing was a Christian exercise, 
from St. Paul's frequent allusions to the Olympic games. 

The declaration of the barbarians upon seeing the snake 
fasten upon St. Paul's hand proves nothing but the ignorance 
of those uncivilized people. I deny the consent of all nations to 
the punishment of death for murder but if it were true it 
only proves the universality of the ignorance and depravity of 
man. Revenge, dissimulation, and even theft, prevail among all 
the nations in the world, and yet who will dare to assert, that 
these vices are just, or necessary to the order or happiness of 
society. 

Our author does not distinguish between the sense of justice 
so universal among all nations, and an approbation of death as 
a punishment for murder. The former is written by the finger 

* "For if I be an offender, and have committed any thing worthy of 
death, I refuse not to die." Acts 25 and 11. 

t "We indeed" suffer "justly, for we receive the due reward of our 
deeds." Luke 23 and 41. 



48 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

of God upon every human heart, but like his own attribute of 
justice, it has the happiness of individuals and of society for its 
objects. It is always misled, when it seeks for satisfaction in 
punishments that are injurious to society, or that are dispropor- 
tioned to crimes. The satisfaction of this universal sense of jus- 
tice by the punishments of imprisonment and labor, would far 
exceed that which is derived from the punishment of death; for 
it would be of longer duration, and it would more frequently 
occur, for, upon a principle laid down in the first essay upon this 
subject, scarcely any species of murder would escape with im- 
punity.* 

The conduct and discourses of our Saviour should outweigh 
every argument that has been or can be offered in favour of 
capital punishment for any crime. When the woman caught in 
adultery was brought to him, he evaded inflicting the bloody 
sentence of the Jewish law upon her. Even the maiming of the 
body appears to be offensive in his sight, for when Peter drew 
his sword and smote off the ear of the servant of the high priest, 
he replaced it by miracle, and at the same time declared, that 
"all they who take the sword, shall perish with the sword." He 
forgave the crime of murder, on his cross; and after his resur- 
rection, he commanded his disciples to preach the gospel of 
forgiveness first at Jerusalem, where he well knew his murderers 
still resided. These striking facts are recorded for our imitation, 
and seem intended to show that the Son of God died, not only 
to reconcile God to man, but to reconcile men to each other. 
There is one passage more, in the history of our Saviour's life, 
which would of itself overset the justice of the punishment of 
death for murder, if every other part of the Bible had been silent 

* A scale of punishments by means of imprisonment and labor might 
easily be contrived, so as to be accommodated to the different degrees 
of atrocity in murder. For example for the first or highest degree of 
guilt, let the punishment be solitude and darkness, and a total want of 
employment. For the second, solitude and labour, with the benefit of 
light. For the third, confinement and labor. The duration of these punish- 
ments should likewise be governed by the atrocity of the murder, and 
by the signs of contrition and amendment in the criminal. 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 49 

upon the subject. When two of his disciples, actuated by the 
spirit of vindictive legislators, requested permission of him to 
call down fire from heaven to consume the inhospitable Samari- 
tans, he answered them "the Son of Man is not come to destroy 
men's lives, but to save them." I wish these words composed 
the motto of the arms of every nation upon the face of the earth. 
They inculcate every duty that is calculated to preserve restore 
or prolong human life. They militate alike against war and 
capital punishments the objects of which are the unprofitable 
destruction of the lives of men. How precious does a human life 
appear from these words, in the sight of heaven! Pause, legis- 
lators, when you give your votes for inflicting the punishment 
of death for any crime. You frustrate, in one instance, the design 
of the mission of the Son of God into the world, and thereby 
either deny his appearance in the flesh, or reject the truth of his 
gospel. You moreover strengthen by your conduct the argu- 
ments of the Deists and Socinians against the particular doctrines 
of the Christian revelation. You do more you preserve a bloody 
fragment of the ancient institution. "The Son of Man came not 
to destroy men's lives, but to save them." Excellent words! I 
require no others to satisfy me of the truth and divine original 
of the Christian religion, and while I am able to place a finger 
upon this text of scripture, I will not believe an angel from 
heaven, should he declare that the punishment of death for any 
crime was inculcated, or permitted by the spirit of the gospel. 
It has been said, that a man who has committed a murder, 
has discovered a malignity of heart, that renders him ever after- 
wards unfit to live in human society. This is by no means true 
in many, and perhaps in most of the cases of murder. It is most 
frequently the effect of a sudden gust of passion, and has some- 
times been the only stain of a well spent or inoffensive life. 
There are many crimes which unfit a man much more for human 
society, than a single murder, and there have been instances of 
murderers who have escaped or bribed the laws of their country, 
who have afterwards become peaceable, and useful members of 
society. Let it not be supposed that I wish to palliate by this 



5 o SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

remark, the enormity of murder. Far from it. It is only because 
I view murder with such superlative horror, that I wish to de- 
prive our laws of the power of perpetrating and encouraging it. 

Our author has furnished us with a number of tales to show 
that the providence of God is concerned in a peculiar manner 
in detecting murder, and that the confessions of murderers have 
in many instances sanctified the justice of their punishment. I do 
not wish to lessen the influence of such vulgar errors as tend 
to prevent crimes, but I will venture to declare, that many more 
murderers escape discovery, than are detected, or punished. 
Were I not afraid of trespassing upon the patience of my 
readers, I might mention a number of facts, in which circum- 
stances of the most trifling nature have become the means of 
detecting theft and forgery, from which I could draw as strong 
proofs of the watchfulness of providence over the property of 
individuals, and the order of society, as our author has drawn 
from the detection of murder. I might mention instances, like- 
wise, of persons in whom conscience has produced restitution 
for stolen goods, or confession of the justice of the punishment 
which was inflicted for theft. Conscience and knowledge always 
keep pace with each other, both with respect to divine and 
human laws. A party of soldiers in the Duke of Alva's army, 
murdered a man and his wife with six children. They roasted 
the youngest child, and dined upon it. One of them after din- 
ner clapped his hands together, and with great agitation of mind 
cried out "good God what have I done?" What? said one 
of his companions u why" said the other "I have eaten flesh in 
Lent time." Here conscience kept pace with his degrees of 
knowledge. The same thing occurs upon different occasions 
every day. The acquiescence of murderers in the justice of their 
execution, is the effect of prejudice and education. It cannot 
flow from a conscience acting in concert with reason or re- 
ligion for they both speak a very different language. 

The world has certainly undergone a material change for the 
better within the last two hundred years. This change has been 
produced chiefly, by the secret and unacknowledged influence 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 51 

of Christianity upon the hearts of men. It is agreeable to trace 
the effects of the Christian religion in the extirpation of slavery 
in the diminution of the number of capital punishments, and in 
the mitigation of the horrors of war. There was a time when 
masters possessed a power over the lives of their slaves. But 
Christianity has deposed this power, and mankind begins to see 
every where that slavery is alike contrary to the interests of 
society, and the spirit of the gospel. There was a time when 
torture was part of the punishment of death, and when the num- 
ber of capital crimes amounted to one hundred and sixty-one. 
Christianity has abolished the former, and reduced the latter to 
not more than six or seven. It has done more. It has confined in 
some instances capital punishments to the crime of murder only 
and in some countries it has abolished it altogether. The in- 
fluence of Christianity upon the modes of war has been still more 
remarkable. It is agreeable to trace its progress. 

i st. In rescuing women and children from being the objects 
of the desolations of war in common with men. 

adly. In preventing the destruction of captives taken in battle, 
in cold blood. 

3dly. In protecting the peaceable husbandman from sharing 
in the carnage of war. 

4thly. In producing an exchange of prisoners, instead of 
dooming them to perpetual slavery. 

5thly. In avoiding the invasion or destruction, in certain 
cases, of private property. 

6thly. In declaring all wars to be unlawful but such as are 
purely defensive. 

This is the only tenure by which war now holds its place 
among Christians. It requires but little ingenuity to prove that a 
defensive war cannot be carried on successfully without offen- 
sive operations. If this be true, then this last degree of it, upon 
our author's principles, must be contrary t6 the spirit of the 
gospel. Already the princes and nations of the world discover 
the struggles of opinion or conscience in their preparations for 
war. Witness, the many national disputes which have been lately 



52 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

terminated in Europe by negotiation, or mediation. Witness, 
too, the establishment of the Constitution of the United States 
without force or bloodshed. These events indicate an improving 
state of human affairs. They lead us to look forward with ex- 
pectation to the time, when the weapons of war shall be changed 
into implements of husbandry, and when rapine and violence 
shall be no more. These events are the promised fruits of the 
gospel. If they do not come to pass, the prophets have deceived 
us. But if they do war must be as contrary to the spirit of the 
gospel, as fraud, or murder, or any other of the vices which are 
reproved or extirpated by it.* 

I cannot take leave of this subject without remarking that 
capital punishments are the natural offspring of monarchical gov- 
ernments. Kings believe that they possess their crowns by a 
divine right: no wonder, therefore, they assume the divine power 
of taking away human life. Kings consider their subjects as their 
property: no wonder, therefore, they shed their blood with as 
little emotion as men shed the blood of their sheep or cattle. But 
the principles of republican governments speak a very different 
language. They teach us the absurdity of the divine origin of 
kingly power. They approximate the extreme ranks of men to 
each other. They restore man to his God to society and to 
himself. They revive and establish the relations of fellow-citizen, 
friend, and brother. They appreciate human life, and increase 
public and private obligations to preserve it. They consider 
human sacrifices as no less offensive to the sovereignty of the 
people, than they are to the majesty of heaven. They view the 
attributes of government, like the attributes of the Deity, as 
infinitely more honoured by destroying evil by means of merci- 
ful than by exterminating punishments. The United States have 

* The spirit of Christianity which our author describes as a vulgar 
deistical species of humanity, has found its way into schools and families, 
and has abolished, in both, corporal and ignominious punishments. In 
the instructions to the masters and mistresses of the sundry schools, I 
observe with great pleasure a direction "to use corporal punishments as 
seldom as possible." 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 53 

adopted these peaceful and benevolent forms of government. It 
becomes them therefore to adopt their mild and benevolent prin- 
ciples. An execution in a republic is like a human sacrifice in 
religion. It is an offering to monarchy, and to that malignant 
being, who has been styled a murderer from the beginning, and 
who delights equally in murder, whether it be perpetrated by the 
cold, but vindictive arm of the law, or by the angry hand of 
private revenge. 



OBSERVATIONS ON THE 
GOVERNMENT OF PENNSYLVANIA 



Letter 1 

EVERY FREE government should consist of three parts, viz. I. A 
BILL OF RIGHTS. II. A CONSTITUTION. And III. LAWS. 

I. The BILL OF RIGHTS should contain the great principles of 
natural and civil liberty. It should be unalterable by any human 
power. 

II. The CONSTITUTION is the executive part of the Bill of 
Rights. It should contain the division and distribution of the 
power of the people. The modes and forms of making laws, of 
executing justice, and of transacting business: Also the limitation 
of power, as to time and jurisdiction. It should be unalterable by 
the legislature, and should be changed only by a representation 
of the people, chosen for that purpose. 

III. LAWS are the executive part of a constitution. They cease 
to be binding whenever they transgress the principles of Liberty, 
as laid down in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. 

Let us now apply these principles to the Bill of Rights, Con- 
stitution and Laws of Pennsylvania. But previous to my entering 
upon this task, I beg leave to declare, that I am not led to it by a 
single party or personal prejudice; on the contrary, I honour 
most of the friends of the present government as the warmest 
Whigs among us, and I am proud of numbering several of the 
gentlemen who were concerned in making, and in attempting 
to execute the government, among my particular friends. 

54 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 55 

I. The Bill of Rights has confounded natural and civil rights 
in such a manner as to produce endless confusion in society. 

II. The Constitution in the gross is exceptionable in the fol- 
lowing particulars: 

1. No regard is paid in it to the ancient habits and customs 
of the people of Pennsylvania in the distribution of the supreme 
power of the state, nor in the forms of business, or in the style 
of the Constitution. The suddenness of the late revolution, the 
attachment of a large body of the people to the old Constitution 
of the state, and the general principles of human nature made 
an attention to ancient forms and prejudices a matter of the 
utmost importance to this state in the present controversy with 
Great Britain. Of so much consequence did the wise Athenians 
view the force of ancient habits and customs in their laws and 
government, that they punished all strangers with death who 
interfered in their politics. They well knew the effects of novelty 
upon the minds of the people, and that a more fatal stab could 
not be given to the peace and safety of their state than by expos- 
ing its laws and government to frequent or unnecessary inno- 
vations. 

2. The Constitution is wholly repugnant to the principles of 
action in man, and has a direct tendency to check the progress 
of genius and virtue in human nature. It supposes perfect equal- 
ity, and an equal distribution of property, wisdom and virtue, 
among the inhabitants of the state. 

3. It comprehends many things which belong to a Bill of 
Rights, and to Laws, and which form no part of a Constitution. 

4. It is contrary, in an important article, to the Bill of Rights. 
By the second article of the Bill of Rights, "no man can be 
abridged of any civil right, who acknowledges the being of a 
GOD;" but by the Constitution, no man can take his seat in the 
Assembly, who does not "acknowledge the Scriptures of the 
Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration." 

5. It is deficient in point of perspicuity and method. Instead 
of reducing the legislative, executive and judicial parts of the 
constitution, with their several powers and forms of business, 



5 6 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

to distinct heads, the whole of them are jumbled together in a 
most unsystematic manner. 

6. It fixes all these imperfections upon the people for seven 
years, by precluding them from the exercise of their own power 
to remove them at any other time, or in any other manner than 
by a septennial convention, called by a Council of Censors. 

III. The laws and proceedings of the Assembly of Pennsyl- 
vania are in many particulars contrary to the Constitution. Only 
one half of the Members took the oath of allegiance, prescribed 
in the tenth section of the Constitution. The Speaker of the 
House issued writs for the election of Members of Assembly and 
of Counsellors, notwithstanding this power is lodged, by the 
i pth section of the Constitution, only in the President and Coun- 
cil. Two gentlemen were appointed Members of ^Congress, who 
held offices under the Congress, which is expressly forbidden 
in the nth section of the Constitution. The Constitution re- 
quires further in the 4oth section, that every military officer 
should take the oath of allegiance, before he enters upon the 
execution of his office; but the Assembly have dispensed with 
this oath in their Militia Law. The ijth section of the Constitu- 
tion declares, that no law shall be passed, unless it be previously 
published for the consideration of the People; but the Assembly 
passed all the laws of their late session, without giving the 
People an opportunity of seeing them, till they were called upon 
to obey them. These proceedings of the Assembly lead to one, 
and perhaps to all the three following conclusions: First, That 
the Assembly have violated the principles of the Constitution; 
secondly, that the Constitution is so formed, that it could not 
be executed by the Assembly, consistent with the safety of the 
State; lastly, that none of their laws are binding, inasmuch as 
they are contrary to the superior and radical laws of the Con- 
stitution. These considerations are all of a most alarming nature. 
Farewell to Liberty, when the sacred bulwarks of a Constitution 
can be invaded by a legislature! And if the Constitution cannot 
be executed in all its parts, without endangering the safety of 
the State, and if all our late laws must be set aside in a court of 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 57 

justice, because they were not assented to by the People, previous 
to their being enacted, is it not high time for the People to unite 
and form a more effectual, and more practicable system of gov- 
ernment? . . . 

If strict justice should poise the scale in the trial of Tory 
property, I can easily foresee from the virtue of the People, on 
which side the beam would turn; but it becomes us to reflect, 
that all trials for forfeited property must be held in courts of 
ivritten law, and the flaws of our Constitution and laws are so 
wide, that the most gigantic Tory criminal might escape through 
them. 

Letter II 

I shall now proceed to say a few words upon particular parts 
of the Constitution. 

In the second section, "the supreme legislature is vested in a 
'single' House of Representatives of the Freemen of the Com- 
monwealth." By this section we find, that the supreme, absolute, 
and uncontrolled power of the whole State is lodged in the hands 
of one body of men. Had it been lodged in the hands of one man, 
it would have been less dangerous to the safety and liberties of 
the community. Absolute power should never be trusted to man. 
It has perverted the wisest heads, and corrupted the best hearts 
in the world. I should be afraid to commit my property, liberty 
and life to a body of angels for one whole year. The Supreme 
Being alone is qualified to possess supreme power over his crea- 
tures. It requires the wisdom and goodness of a Deity to control, 
and direct it properly. 

In order to show the extreme danger of trusting all the legis- 
lative power of a State *o a single representation, I shall beg leave 
to transcribe a few sentences from a letter, written by Mr. JOHN 
ADAMS, to one of his friends in North Carolina, who requested 
him to favour him with a plan of government for that State above 
a twelve-month ago. This illustrious Citizen, who is second to 
no man in America, in an inflexible attachment to the liberties 



58 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

of this country, and to republican forms of government, writes 
as follows, 

"I think a people cannot be long free, nor ever happy, whose 
government is in one Assembly. My reasons for this opinion are 
as follow, 

1. "A single Assembly is liable to all the vices, follies and 
frailties of an individual, subject to fits of humour, starts of 
passions,* flights of enthusiasm, partialities of prejudice, and 
consequently productive of hasty results and absurd judgments. 
All these errors ought to be corrected, and defects supplied by 
some controlling power. 

2. "A single Assembly is apt to be avaricious, and in time will 
not scruple to exempt itself from burdens, which it will lay, 
without compunction, upon its constituents. 

3. "A single Assembly is apt to grow ambitious, and after a 
time will not hesitate to vote itself perpetual. This was one fault 
of the Long Parliament, but more remarkably of Holland, whose 
Assembly first voted themselves from annual to septennial, then 
for life, and after a course of years, that all vacancies happening 
by death or otherwise, should be filled by themselves, without 
any application to constituents at all. 

4. "Because a single Assembly possessed of all the powers of 
government would make arbitrary laws for their own interest, 
and adjudge all controversies in their own favor." f 

If any thing could be necessary upon this subject, after such 
an authority, I might here add, that Montesquieu Harrington 

* A Committee of the Convention, which formed the Constitution 
of Pennsylvania, published in the Pennsylvania Packet of October 15, 
1776, as an apology for one of their Ordinances, that was thought to be 
arbitrary and unjust, that it was passed when "the minds of the Convention 
were agitated, and their passions inflamed." 

t These reasons are given by our author for not lodging all power 
legislative, executive and judicial, in one body of men. This has been 
done, as will be shown hereafter in the Constitution of Pennsylvania: But, 
supposing it had been otherwise, our author adds, "shall the whole power 
of legislation rest in one Assembly? Most of the foregoing reasons (one 
is omitted) apply equally to prove, that the whole legislative power ought 
to be more complex." 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 59 

Milton Addison Price Bolingbroke, and others, the wisest 
statesmen, and the greatest friends to Liberty in the world, have 
left testimonies upon record of the extreme folly and danger of 
a people's being governed by a single legislature. I shall content 
myself with the following extract from the last of those authors. 
The sentiments correspond exactly with those of our country- 
man before-mentioned. 

"By simple forms of government, I mean such as lodge the 
whole supreme power, absolutely and without control, either in 
a single person, or in the principal persons of the community, or 
in the whole body of the people. Such governments are gov- 
ernments of arbitrary will, and therefore of all imaginable ab- 
surdities the most absurd. They stand in direct opposition to the 
sole motive of submission to any government whatsoever; for if 
men quit the State, and renounce the rights of nature, (one of 
which is, to be sure, that of being governed by their own will) 
they do this, that they may not remain exposed to the arbitrary 
will of other men, the weakest to that of the strongest, the few 
to that of the many. Now, in submitting to any single form of 
government whatever, they establish what they mean to avoid, 
and for fear of being exposed to arbitrary will sometimes, they 
choose to be governed by it always. These governments do not 
only degenerate into tyranny; they are tyranny in their very 
institution; and they who submit to them, are slaves, not subjects, 
however the supreme power may be exercised; for tyranny and 
slavery do not so properly consist in the stripes that are given and 
received, as in the power of giving them at pleasure, and the 
necessity of receiving them, whenever and for whatever they 
are inflicted." 

I might go on further and show, that all the dissentions of 
Athens and Rome, so dreadful in their nature, and so fatal in 
their consequences, originated in single Assemblies possessing 
all the power of those commonwealths; but this would be the 
business of a volume, and not of a single essay. I shall therefore 
pass on, to answer the various arguments that have been used 
in Pennsylvania, in support of a single legislature.' 



60 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

1. We are told, that the perfection of every thing consists in 
its simplicity, that all mixtures in government are impurities, 
and that a single legislature is perfect, because it is simple. To 
this I answer, that we should distinguish between simplicity in 
principles, and simplicity in the application of principles to prac- 
tice. What can be more simple than the principles of mechanics, 
and yet into how many thousand forms have they been tortured 
by the ingenuity of man. A few simple elementary bodies com- 
pose all the matter of the universe, and yet how infinitely are 
they combined in the various forms and substances which they 
assume in the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms. In like 
manner a few simple principles enter into the composition of all 
free governments. These principles are perfect security for prop- 
erty, liberty and life; but these principles admit of extensive 
combinations, when reduced to practice: Nay more, they re- 
quire them. A despotic government is the most simple govern- 
ment in the world, but instead of affording security to property, 
liberty or life, it obliges us to hold them all on the simple will 
of a capricious sovereign. I maintain therefore, that all govern- 
ments are safe and free in proportion as they are compounded 
in a certain degree, and on the contrary, that all governments are 
dangerous and tyrannical in proportion as they approach to 
simplicity. 

2. We are told by the friends of a single legislature, that 
there can be no danger of their becoming tyrannical, since they 
must partake of all the burdens they lay upon their constituents. 
Here we forget the changes that are made upon the head and 
heart by arbitrary power, and the cases that are recorded in 
history of annual Assemblies having refused to share with their 
constituents in the burdens which they had imposed upon them. 
If every elector in Pennsylvania is capable of being elected an 
assembly-man, then agreeably to the sixth section of the Con- 
stitution, it is possible for an Assembly to exist who do not 
possess a single foot of property in the State, and who can give 
no other evidence of a common interest in, or attachment to, the 
community than having paid "public taxes," which may mean 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 61 

poor-taxes. Should this be the case, (and there is no obstacle 
in the Constitution to prevent it) surely it will be in the power 
of such an Assembly to draw from the State the whole of its 
wealth ih a few years, without contributing any thing further 
towards it than their proportion of the trifling tax necessary to 
support the poor. But I shall show in another place equal 
dangers from another class of men, becoming a majority in the 
Assembly. 

3. We are told of instances of the House of Lords, in Eng- 
land, checking the most salutary laws, after they had passed the 
House of Commons, as a proof of the inconvenience of a com- 
pound legislature. I believed the fact to be true, but I deny its 
application in the present controversy. The House of Lords, 
in England, possess privileges and interests, which do not belong 
to the House of Commons. Moreover they derive their power 
from the crown and not from the people. No wonder therefore 
they consult their own interests, in preference to those of the 
People. In the State of Pennsylvania we wish for a council, with 
no one exclusive privilege, and we disclaim every idea of their 
possessing the smallest degree of power, but what is derived 
from the annwl suffrages of the People. A body thus chosen 
could have no object in view but the happiness of their con- 
stituents. It is remarkable in Connecticut, that the legislative 
council of that State has in no one instance made amendments, 
or put a negative upon the acts of their Assembly, in the course 
of above one hundred years, in which both have not appeared 
to the people in a few months to have been calculated to pro- 
mote their liberty and happiness. 

4. We are told, that the Congress is a single legislature, there- 
fore a single legislature is to be preferred to a compound one. 
The objects of legislation in the Congress relate only to peace 
and war, alliances, trade, the Post-Office, and the government 
of the army and navy. They never touch the liberty, property, 
nor life of the individuals of any State in their resolutions, and 
even in their ordinary subjects of legislation, they are liable to 
be checked by each of the Thirteen States. 



62 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

5. We have been told, that a legislative council or governor 
lays the foundation for aristocratical and monarchical power in 
a community. However ridiculous this objection to a compound 
legislature may appear, I have more than once heard "it men- 
tioned by the advocates for a single Assembly. Who would 
believe, that the same fountain of pure water should send forth, 
at the same time, wholesome and deadly streams? Are not the 
Council and Assembly both formed alike by the annual breath 
of the people? But I will suppose, that a legislative Council as- 
pired after the honors of hereditary titles and power, would they 
not be effectually checked by the Assembly? 

I cannot help commending the zeal that appears in my 
countrymen against the power of a King or a House of Lords. 
I concur with them in all their prejudices against hereditary 
titles, honour and power. History is little else than a recital 
of the follies and vices of kings and noblemen, and it is because 
I dread so much from them, that I wish to exclude them for 
ever from Pennsylvania, for notwithstanding our government 
has been called a simple democracy, I maintain, that a foundation 
is laid in it for the most complete aristocracy that ever existed 
in the world. 

In order to prove this assertion, I shall premise two propo- 
sitions, which have never been controverted: First, where there 
is wealth, there will be power; and, secondly, the rich have 
always been an over-match for the poor in all contests for power. 

These truths being admitted, I desire to know what can pre- 
vent our single representation being filled, in the course of a 
few years, with a majority of rich men? Say not, the people will 
not choose such men to represent them. The influence of wealth 
at elections is irresistible. It has been seen and felt in Pennsyl- 
vania, and I am obliged in justice to my subject to say, that 
there are poor men among us as prepared to be influenced, as 
the rich are prepared to influence them. The fault must be laid 
in both cases upon human nature. The consequence of a major- 
ity of rich men getting into the legislature is plain. Their wealth 
will administer fuel to the love of arbitrary power that is com- 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 63 

mon to all men. The present Assembly have furnished them 
with precedents for breaking the Constitution. Farewell now to 
annual elections! Public emergencies will sanctify the most dar- 
ing measures. The clamours of their constituents will be silenced 
with offices, bribes or punishments. An aristocracy will be estab- 
lished, and Pennsylvania will be inhabited like most of the 
countries in Europe, with only two sorts of animals, tyrants and 
slaves. 

It has often been said, that there is but one rank of men in 
America, and therefore, that there should be only one repre- 
sentation of them in a government. I agree, that we have no 
artificial distinctions of men into noblemen and commoners 
among us, but it ought to be remarked, that superior degrees 
of industry and capacity, and above all, commerce, have intro- 
duced inequality of property among us, and these have intro- 
duced natural distinctions of rank in Pennsylvania, as certain 
and general as the artificial distinctions of men in Europe. This 
will ever be the case while commerce exists in this country. The 
men of middling property and poor men can never be safe in a 
mixed representation with the men of over-grown property. 
Their liberties can only be secured by having exact bounds pre- 
scribed to their power, in the fundamental principles of the Con- 
stitution. By a representation of the men of middling fortunes in 
one house, their whole strength is collected against the influence 
of wealth. Without such a representation, the most violent efforts 
of individuals to oppose it would be divided and broken, and 
would want that system, which alone would enable them to 
check that lust for dominion which is always connected with 
opulence. The government of Pennsylvania therefore has been 
called most improperly a government for poor men. It carries 
in every part of it a poison to their liberties. It is impossible to 
form a government more suited to the passions and interests of 
rich men. 

6. But says the advocate for a single legislature, if one of the 
advantages of having a Legislative Council arises from the Coun- 
sellors possessing more wisdom than the Assembly, why may not 



64 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

the members of the Council be thrown into the Assembly, in 
order to instruct and enlighten them? If sound reasoning always 
prevailed in popular Assemblies, this objection to a Legislative 
Council might have some weight. The danger in this case would 
be, that the Counsellors would partake of the passions and preju- 
dices of the Assembly, by taking part in their debates; or, if they 
did not, that they would be so inconsiderable in point of num- 
bers, that they would be constantly out-voted by the members 
of the Assembly. 

7. But would you suffer twenty or thirty men in a Legisla- 
tive Council to control seventy or eighty in an Assembly? Yes, 
and that for two reasons: First, I shall suppose that they will 
consist of men of the most knowledge and experience in the 
State: Secondly, that their obligations to wisdom and integrity 
will be much stronger than the Assembly's can be, because 
fewer men will be answerable for unjust or improper proceed- 
ings at the bar of the public. But I beg pardon of my readers 
for introducing an answer to an objection to a small number 
of men controlling the proceedings of a greater. The friends of 
the present Constitution of Pennsylvania cannot urge this ob- 
jection with any force, for in the 47 th section of the Constitution 
I find twenty-four men called a COUNCIL of CENSORS, invested 
with a supreme and uncontrolled power to revise and to censure 
all the laws and proceedings of not a single Assembly, but of all 
the Assemblies that shall exist for seven years, which Assemblies 
may contain the united wisdom of five hundred and four Assem- 
bly-men. They are moreover, invested with more wisdom than 
the Convention that is to be chosen by their recommendation; 
for this Convention, which is to consist of seventy-two men, is 
to make no one alteration in the Constitution but what was 
suggested to them by the Council of Censors. I can easily con- 
ceive that two houses consisting of an unequal number of mem- 
bers, both viewing objects through the same medium of time and 
place, may agree in every thing essential, and disagree in matters 
only of doubtful issue to the welfare of the state; but I am sure, 
a body of twenty-four men sitting in judgment upon the pro- 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 65 

ceedings of a body of men defunct in their public capacity seven 
years before them, cannot fail of committing the most egregious 
mistakes from the obscurity which time, and their ignorance of 
a thousand facts and reasonings must throw upon all their de- 
liberations. But more of the arbitrary power of the Censors 
hereafter. 

8. We are told that the State of Pennsylvania has always 
been governed by a single legislature, and therefore, that part 
of our Constitution is not an innovation. There is a short way 
of confuting this assertion by pronouncing it without any foun- 
dation. The Governor always had a negative power upon our 
laws, and was a distinct branch of our legislature. It is true, he 
sometimes exercised his power to the disadvantage of the people; 
for he was the servant of a King who possessed an interest dis- 
tinct from that of his people, and in some cases the Governor him- 
self possessed an interest incompatible with the rights of the 
people. God forbid that ever we should see a resurrection of his 
power in Pennsylvania, but I am obliged to own, that I have 
known instances in which the whole state have thanked him for 
the interposition of his negative and amendments upon the acts 
of the Assembly. Even the Assembly-men themselves have ac- 
knowledged the justice of his conduct upon these occasions, by 
condemning in their cooler hours their own hasty, and ill- 
digested resolutions. 

9. But why all these arguments in favor of checks for the 
Assembly. The Constitution (says the single legislative-man) has 
provided no less than four for them. First, Elections will be 
annual. Secondly, The doors of the Assembly are to be always 
open. Thirdly, All laws are to be published for the consideration 
and assent of the people: And, Fourthly, The Council of Cen- 
sors will punish, by their censures, all violations of the Constitu- 
tion, and the authors of bad laws. I shall examine the efficacy of 
each of these checks separately. 

I hope, for the peace of the state, that we shall never see a 
body of men in power more attached to the present Constitution 
than the present Assembly, and if, with all their affection for it, 



66 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

they have broken it in many articles, it is reasonable to suppose 
that future Assemblies will use the same freedoms with it. They 
may, if they chuse, abolish annual elections. J They may tell their 
constituents that elections draw off the minds of the people from 
necessary labour; or, if a war should exist, they may show the im- 
possibility of holding elections when there is a chance of the 
militia being called into the field to oppose a common enemy: 
Or lastly, they may fetter elections with oaths in such a manner 
as to exclude nine-tenths of the electors from voting. Such 
stratagems for perpetual power will never want men nor a society 
of men to support them; for the Assembly possesses such a pleni- 
tude of power from the influence of the many offices of profit 
and honour * that are in their gift, that they may always promise 
themselves support from a great part of the state. But I will 
suppose that no infringement is ever made upon annual elections. 
In the course of even one year a single Assembly may do the 
most irreparable mischief to a state. Socrates and Barnevelt were 
both put to death by Assemblies that held their powers at the 
election of the people. The same Assemblies would have shed 
oceans of tears to have recalled those illustrious citizens to life 
again, in less than half a year after they imbrued their hands in 
their blood. 

I am highly pleased with having the doors of our Assembly 
kept constantly open; but how can this check the proceedings 
of the Assembly, when none but a few citizens of the town or 
county, where the Assembly sits, or a few travelling strangers, 
can ever attend or watch them? 

The late Convention was chosen for the sole purpose of making a 
government, and was composed of honest, well-meaning men, and yet, I 
have good authority to say, that several of them proposed to their friends 
forming themselves into an Assembly, to execute the government. 

* The President is appointed chiefly by the Assembly. His salary, 
together with the salaries of the Judges, are fixed by the Assembly. Dele- 
gates in Congress, the Lieutenants and Sub-Lieutenants of counties, Proton- 
otaries, Registers of Wills, Money-Signers, &c. &c. are all appointed solely 
by the Assembly. Each of these officers brings with him the influence 
of his friends and family-connections. When collected together, they 
make a little army of placemen. 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 67 

I shall take no notice of the delays of business, which must 
arise from publishing all laws for the consideration and assent 
of the people; but I beg to be informed bow long they must be 
published before they are passed? For I take it for granted, that 
each county has a right to equal degrees of time to consider of 
the laws. In what manner are they to be circulated? How are 
the sentiments of the people, scattered over a county fifty or sixty 
miles in extent, to be collected? Whether by ballot, or by voting 
in a tumultuary manner? These are insurmountable difficulties 
in the way of the people at large acting as a check upon the 
Assembly. But supposing an attempt should be made to restrain 
the single legislature in this manner, are we sure the disapproba- 
tion of the people would be sufficient to put a negative upon 
improper or arbitrary laws? Would not the Assembly, from their 
partiality to their own proceedings, be apt to pass over the com- 
plaints of the people in silence? to neglect or refuse to enter 
their petitions or remonstrances upon their Journals? or to raise 
the hue and cry of a fostered junto upon them, as "Tories" or 
"apostate Whigs" or "an aristocratic faction?" 

To talk of the Councils of Censors, as a check upon the 
Assembly, is to forget that a man or a body of men may deceive, 
rob, and enslave the public for seven years, and then may escape 
the intended efficacy of the censures of the Council by death, or 
by flying into a neighbouring state. 

10. We are informed that a single legislature was supported 
in the Convention by Dr. Franklin, and assented to by Mr. Rit- 
tenhouse; gentlemen distinguished for their uncommon abilities, 
and deservedly dear for their virtues to every lover of human 
nature. The only answer, after what has been said, that I shall 
give to this argument, is, that Divine Providence seems to have 
permitted them to err upon this subject, in order to console the 
world for the very great superiority they both possess over the 
rest of mankind in every thing else, except the science of gov- 
ernment. 

Thus have I answered all the arguments that ever I have heard 
offered in favour of a single legislature, and I hope, silenced all 



68 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

the objections that have been made to a double representation 
of the people. I might here appeal further to the practice of 
our courts of law in favour of repeated deliberations and divi- 
sions. In a free government, the most inconsiderable portion of 
our liberty and property cannot be taken from us, without the 
judgment of two or three courts; but, by the Constitution of 
Pennsylvania, the whole of our liberty and property, and even 
our lives, may be taken from us, by the hasty and passionate de- 
cision of a single Assembly. 

I shall conclude my observations upon this part of the Con- 
stitution, by summing up the advantages of a compound or 
double legislature. 

1. There is the utmost freedom in a compound legislature. 
The decisions of two legislative bodies cannot fail of coinciding 
with the wills of a great majority of the community. 

2. There is safety in such a government, in as much as each 
body possesses a free and independent power, so that they mutu- 
ally check ambition and usurpation in each other. 

3. There is the greatest 'wisdom in such a government. Every 
act being obliged to undergo the revision and amendments of 
two bodies of men, is necessarily strained of every mixture of 
folly, passion, and prejudice.f 

4. There is the longest duration of freedom in such a govern- 
ment.* 

5. There is the most order in such a government. By order, 
I mean obedience to laws, subordination to magistrates, civility 

fThe Militia Law of the Delaware State received twenty-four 
amendments from the Council after it had had three readings in the 
Assembly; all of which were adopted at once by the Assembly. I grant, 
the wisdom of men collected in any way that can be devised, cannot 
make a perfect law; but I am sure a Legislative Council would not have 
overlooked many inaccuracies in the laws passed in the last session of 
the present Assembly of Pennsylvania. 

* Sparta, which possessed a compound legislature, preserved her 
liberties above five hundred years. The fatal dissentions of Athens and 
Rome ceased as soon as their Senates, which were filled only with rich 
men, were checked by another Representation of the people. 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 69 

and decency of behaviour, and the contrary of every thing like 
mobs and factions. 

6. Compound governments are most agreeable to hitman 
nature, inasmuch as they afford the greatest scope for the ex- 
pansion of the powers and virtues of the mind. Wisdom, learn- 
ing, experience, with the most extensive benevolence, the most 
unshaken firmness, and the utmost elevation of soul, are all called 
into exercise by the opposite and different duties of the different 
representations of the people. 

Letter III 

The powers of government have been very justly divided 
into legislative, executive and judicial. Having discussed the 
legislative power of the government of Pennsylvania, I shall 
proceed now to consider the executive and judicial. 

It is agreed on all hands that the executive and judicial powers 
of government should be wholly independant of the legislative. 
The authors of the Pennsylvania Constitution seem to have given 
their sanction to this opinion, by separating those powers from 
the powers of the Assembly. It becomes us to enquire whether 
they have made them so independant of the Assembly as to give 
them the free exercise of their own judgments. 

The insignificant figure the President and Council make in 
the Constitution from not having a negative upon the laws of 
the Assembly, alone would soon have destroyed their authority 
and influence in the State. But the authors of the Constitution 
have taken pains to throw the whole power of the Council at 
once into the hands of the Assembly, by rendering the former 
dependant upon the latter in the two following particulars. 

1. The President is chosen by the joint ballot of the Assembly 
and Council. The Assembly being to the Council, in point of 
numbers, as five are to one, of course chuse the President. Each 
member will expect in his turn to fill the first chair in the State, 
and hence the whole Council will yield themselves up to the will 
of the Assembly. 

2. The salaries of the President and of each of the Counsellors 



70 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

are fixed by the Assembly. This will necessarily render them de- 
pendant upon them. It is worthy of notice here, that a rotation 
is established in the ipth section of the Constitution, to "prevent 
the danger of an inconvenient aristocracy." From what abuse 
of power can this aristocracy arise? Are they not the creatures 
of the Assembly? But there is a magic terror in the sound of a 
Counsellor. Call a man an Assemblyman, or a Censor, and he 
becomes an innocent creature, though you invest him with the 
despotism of an Eastern monarch. If the Council are dependant 
upon the Assembly, it follows of course that the Judges, who 
are appointed by the Council, are likewise dependant upon them. 
But in order more fully to secure their dependance upon the 
will of the Assembly, they are obliged to hold their salaries upon 
the tenure of their will. In vain do they hold tjieir commissions 
for seven years. This is but the shadow of independance. They 
cannot live upon the air, and their absolute dependance upon 
the Assembly gives that body a transcendent influence over all 
the courts of law in the State. Here then we have discovered 
the legislative, executive and judicial powers of the State all 
blended together. The liberty, the property and life of every 
individual in the State are laid prostrate by the Constitution at 
the feet of the Assembly. This combination of powers in one 
body has in all ages been pronounced a tyranny. To live by one 
man's will became the cause of all men's misery; but better, far 
better, would it be to live by the will of one man, than to live, 
or rather to die, by the will of a body of men. Unhappy Pennsyl- 
vania! Methinks I see the scales of justice broken in thy courts. 
I see the dowry of the widow and the portion of the orphans 
unjustly taken from them, in order to gratify the avarice of some 
demagogue who rules the Assembly by his eloquence and arts. 
I see the scaffolds streaming with the blood of the wisest and 
best men in the State. I see the offices of government . . . But 
the prospect is too painful, I shall proceed to take notice of some 
other parts of the Constitution. 

It was not sufficient to contaminate justice at its fountain, but 
its smallest streams are made to partake of impurity by the Con- 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 71 

vention. In the 30th section of the Constitution "all Justices of 
the Peace are to be elected by the freeholders of each city and 
county." The best observations that can be made on this part of 
the Constitution is to inform the public, that not above one half 
the people of the State chose magistrates agreeable to the laws 
of the Assembly for that purpose; that more than one half of 
those that were chosen have refused to accept of commissions, 
and that many of those who act are totally disqualified from 
the want of education or leisure for the office. It has been said 
often, and I wish the saying was engraven over the doors of 
every statehouse on the Continent, that "all power is derived 
from the people," but it has never yet been said that all power 
is seated in the people. Government supposes and requires a 
delegation of power: It cannot exist without it. And the idea of 
making the people at large judges of the qualifications necessary 
for magistrates, or judges of laws, or checks for Assemblies pro- 
ceeds upon the supposition that mankind are all alike wise, and 
just, and have equal leisure. It moreover destroys the necessity 
for all government. What man ever made himself his own attor- 
ney? And yet this would not be more absurd than for the people 
at large to pretend to give up their power to a set of rulers, and 
afterwards reserve the right of making and of judging of all their 
laws themselves. Such a government is a monster in nature. It 
contains as many Governors, Assemblymen, Judges and Magis- 
trates as there are freemen in the State, all exercising the same 
powers and at the same time. Happy would it be for us, if this 
monster was remarkable only for his absurdity; but, alas! he 
contains a tyrant in his bowels. All history shows us that the 
people soon grow weary of the folly and tyranny of one another. 
They prefer one to many masters, and stability to instability of 
slavery. They prefer a Julius Caesar to a Senate, and a Cromwell 
to a perpetual Parliament. 

I cannot help thinking a mistake lays rather in words than 
ideas when we talk of the rights of the people. Where is the 
difference between my choosing a Justice of Peace, and my 
choosing an Assemblyman and a Counsellor, by whose joint 



72 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

suffrages a Governor is chosen, who appoints a Justice for me? 
I am still the first link of the sacred chain of the power of the 
State. But are there no cases in which I may be bound by acts 
of a single, or of a body of magistrates in the State, whom I have 
had no hand in choosing? Yes, there are. Here then I am bound 
contrary to the principles of liberty (which consist in a man 
being governed by men chosen by himself), whereas if all the 
magistrates in the State were appointed by the Governor, or 
executive part of the State, it would be impossible for me to 
appear before the bar of a magistrate any where who did not 
derive his power originally from me. 

By the 5th section all militia officers below the rank of a 
Brigadier General are to be chosen by the people. Most of the 
objections that have been mentioned against magistrates being 
chosen by the people, apply with equal force against the people's 
choosing their military officers. By the militia law of this State 
we find the soldier ceases to be commanded by the officer of his 
choice as soon as he comes in the field. He might as well be 
commanded by an officer of another State as by one of his own 
States, for whom he did not vote. Had he been appointed by the 
executive power of the government, he might have looked upon 
him originally as the creature of his own power, and might have 
claimed his care in the camp, from his influence at elections, in 
moving those springs in government, from which he derived his 
commission. But the unsuitableness of this part of the Constitu- 
tion to the genius of the people of Pennsylvania, will appear 
in the strongest point of light, from attending to the two fol- 
lowing facts: ist: Most of the irregularities committed by the 
militia, that were in service last year, were occasioned by that 
laxity of discipline, which was introduced and kept up by officers 
holding their commissions by the breath of the people: And 
idly, Above one half of the State have refused or neglected to 
choose officers, agreeably to the recommendation of the Assem- 
bly. And even in many of those places, where elections for 
officers have been held, Colonels have been chosen by forty and 
Captains and Subalterns by only four or five votes. 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 73 

In the 22d section of the Constitution it is said, "every officer 
of the state, whether judicial or executive, shall be liable to be 
impeached by the General Assembly, before the President and 
Council, either when in office or after his resignation or removal 
for maladministration." Why is a man in this case to be deprived 
of a trial by jury? and what is the reason that no time is fixed 
for the commencement of this impeachment after resignation or 
removal for maladministration? A judicial or military officer 
may be innocent, and yet, from the delay of his trial for six or 
seven years, he may be deprived by death or other ways of the 
vouchers of his innocence. Woe to the man that ever holds one 
of the high offices of the State of Pennsylvania! He must ever, 
after his resignation, hold his life at the pleasure of the orator 
who rules the Assembly. The least mark of disrespect shown 
to him, or to any of the Assembly, rouses the Constitution and 
laws of his country against him; and perhaps, after an interval 
of twenty or thirty years conscious integrity, his grey hairs are 
dragged with sorrow to the grave. Let not this be thought to 
be too high a picture of this part of the Constitution of Pennsyl- 
vania. It is a picture of human nature in similar circumstances, 
in every age and country. Men possessed of unlimited and un- 
controlled power are beasts of prey. 

But is there no power lodged in the Constitution to alter 
these imperfections? Has our Convention monopolized all the 
wisdom of succeeding years, so as to preclude any improvements 
being made in the infant science of government? Must we groan 
away our lives in a patient submission to all the evils in the Con- 
stitution which have been described? Let the 47th and last section 
of the Constitution answer these questions. By this section it is 
declared, that after the expiration of seven years, there shall "be 
chosen two men from each city and county, (a majority of whom 
shall be a quorum in every case, except as to calling a Conven- 
tion) who shall be called a Council of Censors, and who shall 
have power to call a Convention within two years after their 
sitting, if there appears to them an absolute necessity of amend- 
ing any article of the Constitution which may be defective, ex- 



74 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

plaining such as may be thought not clearly expressed, and of 
-adding such as are necessary for the preservation of the rights 
and happiness of the people." From this paragraph it is evident, 
that the Constitution was thought to be the perfection of human 
wisdom, and that the authors of it intended that it should last 
for ever. Every section of the Constitutional believe, was de- 
termined by a majority of the Members of the Convention, and 
in the nth section of the Constitution we find, that if only two- 
thirds of the people concur in the execution of it, the members 
of Assembly chosen by them, are to "possess all the powers of 
the General Assembly as fully and amply as if the whole were 
present." This is strictly agreeable to the principles of good 
government; but, why are these principles to be trampled upon, 
when the great question is to be agitated, whether the Constitu- 
tion shall be altered? For, unless every county and city in the 
State concur in electing Censors, and unless tnjoo thirds of them 
agree in calling a Convention, there is no possibility of obtaining 
an alteration of a single article of the Constitution. If the Assem- 
bly had not taught us that it was neither treason nor perjury to 
break the Constitution, I am sure it would have x remained in- 
violate for ever; for I am persuaded that several of the counties 
would have refused to have chosen Censors. But suppose they 
had, if only one short of two thirds of them refused to agree in 
the measure, we could have no Convention. The minority would 
give laws to a majority. A solecism in government! But there is 
no end to the tyranny 'and absurdity of our Constitution. 

But the Council of Censors have not yet finished their 
business. They are empowered by the Constitution "to enquire, 
whether the Constitution has been preserved inviolate in every 
part? and whether the legislative and executive branches of gov- 
ernment have performed their duty, as guardians of the people; 
or assumed to themselves, or exercised other or greater powers 
than they are entitled to by the Constitution: They are also to 
enquire, whether the public taxes have been justly laid and col- 
lected in all parts of this commonwealth; in what manner 
the public monies have been disposed of, and whether the laws 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 75 

have been duly executed: For these purposes they shall have 
power to send for persons, papers and records; they shall have 
authority to pass public censures, and to recommend to the legis- 
lature, the repealing such laws as appear to them to have been 
enacted contrary to the principles of the Constitution: These 
powers they shall continue to have for, and during the space 
of one year, from the day of their election, and no longer." 

Is this the commission of the Grand Turk? or is it an extract 
from an act of the British Parliament, teeming with vengeance 
against the liberties of America? No. It is an epitome of the 
powers of the Council of Censors established by the late Con- 
vention of Pennsylvania. Innocence has nothing to fear from 
justice, when it flows through the regular channels of law; but 
where is the man who can ensure himself a moment's safety 
from a body of men invested with absolute power for one whole 
year to censure and condemn, without judge or jury, every in- 
dividual in the State. I shall suppose the Council to consist of 
a majority of those Members of Assembly, who took the oath 
of allegiance to the Constitution, and who voted, that no officer 
should be excused from taking it, who accepted of a militia- 
commission under the authority of this State. I shall suppose 
them assembled for the business of their office. The work of an 
age is to be performed in a single year. Methinks I see such of 
those worthy gentlemen as are living, who, for the sake of union, 
consented to dispense with the oath of allegiance to the Con- 
stitution, led like criminals to their bar. I hear peals of wrath 
denounced against them. I see those virtuous gentlemen, who 
composed the Executive Council in the year 1777, summoned 
to appear at their tribunal, to answer for their having abdicated 
the duties of their office, by an adjournment, at a time when 
the State was threatened with an invasion. In vain they plead, 
that the Constitution had invested them with no power for the 
defence of the State. Their names and their families are branded 
with infamy by a "public censure." I see hundreds and thousands 
coming, one after another, before the Council, to be censured 
for refusing to choose magistrates and militia-officers, agreeably 



76 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

to the laws of the Assembly. But who are they who are dragged 
with so much violence to the inquisitorial tribunal? They are 
a number of citizens who prayed for some alterations to be made 
in the Constitution. In vain they plead the obligations of reason 
and conscience against submitting to the government. In vain 
they plead their zeal and services in the common cause of 
America. It is all to no purpose. They recommend to the Assem- 
bly to impeach them for high treason. They are condemned as 
traitors, and the streets swim with their blood. Good heavens! 
where was the mild genius of Pennsylvania, when this part of the 
Constitution obtained the assent of the Convention? . . . Spirit 
of liberty, whither wast thou fled? . . . 

But perhaps the Constitution has provided a remedy for its 
defects, without the aid of the Council of Censors? No this 
cannot be done; for every Member of Assembly, before he takes 
his seat, is obliged, by the loth section of the Constitution, to 
swear that he will not "do nor consent to any act whatever, that 
shall have a tendency to lessen or abridge their rights and privi- 
leges as declared in the Constitution of this State" as also, "that 
he will not directly or indirectly do or consent to any act or thing 
prejudicial or injurious to the Constitution or Government 
thereof, as established by the Convention" agreeably to the 40th 
section of the Constitution. These oaths of infallibility and pas- 
sive obedience to the form of the Constitution, effectually pre- 
clude every man, who holds an office under it, from attempting 
to procure the least amendment in any part of it.* It is a mere 
quibble upon words to say, that a man may mend the Constitu- 

* That it was the design of the Convention, that the Constitution 
should not be touched by any power but a Convention to be called by 
the Council of Censors, appears from the oath contained in the 40th 
section, being required by one of their ordinances as the only condition 
upon which an Elector could vote for an Assemblyman. Strange! that 
men should call God to witness their determination to support a govern- 
ment, which a majority of them had not seen, and which even the 
minority of them did not understand or disliked! But, for the honour of 
the State it should be recorded, that not above 1500 of the 2500, who 
voted for the Assembly, took the oath required by the ordinance of the 
Convention. 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 77 

tion, without "doing any thing prejudicial or injurious to it." 
The Convention did not intend any such construction to be 
put upon their oaths, and hence we find in the introduction to 
the Constitution, they "declare the frame of government to be 
the Constitution of this commonwealth, and to remain in force 
therein forever, unaltered, except in such articles as shall here- 
after, upon experience, be found to require improvement, and 
which shall, by the same authority of the people fairly delegated, 
as this frame of government directs, be amended and improved." 
Now we know, that the frame of government forbids the least 
amendment being made in the Constitution in any other than 
by the recommendation of a Council of Censors. 

Had the Constitution appeared to me to have been unexcep- 
tionable in every part, and had it been the result of the united 
wisdom of men and angels, I would not have taken an oath of 
passive obedience to it, for seven or nine years. The constant 
changes in human affairs, and in the dispositions of a people, 
might render occasional alterations, in that time, necessary in 
the most perfect Constitution. But to take an oath of allegiance 
to a Constitution, full of experiments, a Constitution that was 
indeed a new thing under the sun, that had never been tried 
in some of its parts in any country, and that had produced 
misery in other of its parts in every country. I say to swear to 
support or even to submit, for seven or nine years, to such a 
Constitution,' is to trifle with all morality, and to dishonour the 
sacred name of God himself. 

What would you think of a man, who would consent to shut 
his eyes, and swallow a quantity of food that had never before 
been tasted by a human creature, and swear at the same time, 
that if it should disorder him in ever so great a degree, he would 
take nothing to relieve him for eight and forty hours? Such a 
man would be wise, compared with the man who takes an oath 
of allegiance to the Constitution of Pennsylvania. 

It is to no purpose to talk here of the many excellent articles 
in the Bill of Rights; such as religious toleration, the habeas 
corpus act, trials by juries, the rotation of office, &c. None 



78 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

of them can flourish long in the neighbourhood of a single As- 
sembly, and a Council of Censors possessing all the powers of 
the State. . . . These inestimable privileges in the Constitution 
of Pennsylvania resemble a tree loaded with the most luscious 
fruit, but surrounded with thorns, in such a manner, as to be for 
ever inaccessible to the hungry traveller. 

Perhaps, while the government is upon its good behaviour, 
and while the passions of the State are directed against a cruel 
and common enemy, we may not experience all the calamities 
that have been demonstrated to flow from the Constitution. . . . 
But the revolution of a few years, and the return of peace, will 
most certainly render Pennsylvania, under her present Constitu- 
tion, the most miserable spot upon the surface of the globe. 

I believe all the Members of the late Convention were true 
Whigs, and aimed sincerely at forming a free and happy gov- 
ernment: But, I am sure, that if Filmar and Hobbes had sat 
among them, they could not have formed a government more 
destructive of human happiness; nor could Lord North or Gen- 
eral Howe have formed one more destructive of union and 
vigour, in our public affairs, than the present Constitution of 
Pennsylvania. 

It is one thing to understand the principles, and another thing 
to understand the forms of government. The former are simple; 
the latter are difficult and complicated. There is the same differ- 
ence between principles and forms in all other sciences. Who 
understood the principles of mechanics and optics better than 
Sir Isaac Newton? and yet Sir Isaac could not for his life have 
made a watch or a microscope. Mr. Locke is an oracle as to the 
principles, Harrington and Montesquieu are oracles as to the 
forms of government. 

Letter IV 

A question very naturally arises from taking a review of the 
tyranny of the government of Pennsylvania, What measures 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 79 

shall be taken to amend them? There can be but two answers 
to this question, ist. To submit to the Constitution for the pres- 
ent, till a peace with Great Britain will give us leisure to make 
a better; or, idly, to call a Convention immediately for the pur- 
pose of making a new Constitution. I believe the State is divided 
only about these two things; for the party who believe the gov- 
ernment to be a good one, is too inconsiderable to be noticed in 
this place. 

I. I beg leave to offer a few objections to our submitting 
to the Constitution, and shall endeavour, II. to obviate the 
objections that have been made to the immediate calling of 
a Convention, for the purpose of altering and amending 
it. 

There is the utmost danger to the State of Pennsylvania 
in a temporary submission to the Constitution from the following 
causes, i. The government is a tyranny. The moment we submit 
to it we become slaves. We hold every thing dear to us in society 
upon the tenure of the will of a single man in a single Assembly. 
Perhaps the mark of the beast may not be fixed immediately 
upon us, but the contract is made, and we are sold, together with 
our posterity, to be hewers of wood and drawers of water for 
ever. 2. The Constitution cannot be executed in part without 
being broken. Now there cannot be a more dangerous precedent 
in a free country, than a legislature violating in a single article 
even the ^onm of a Constitution. 3. The present government 
will not draw forth the wisdom nor strength of the State, nor 
afford that assistance to our Sister States which is expected from 
us in the present contest with Great Britain. Wise and good 
men every where decline to accept of the first offices in the 
government. The militia law is only partially executed. We 
have no courts of justice open for the sequestration or confisca- 
tion of Tory property; and, lastly, we shall never be able under 
the present government to contribute our share towards sinking 
the Continental debt by taxes. There is not force enough in the 
'whole State to draw taxes from a single county against their 



8o SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

consent. f Alas! we are on the brink of ruin. Our State has lifted 
a knife to her throat, and is about to undo herself by a hasty 
and ill-judged exercise of her own power. Our enemies are ex- 
ulting, and our friends are weeping over our alarming situation. 
Our ancestors look down, and our posterity look up to us for a 
happier Constitution. We are engaged with our Sister States 
in a bloody and expensive war. The liberty of the whole world 
is the price for which we fight. Human nature looks to us to 
avenge the mighty ills she has suffered from the tyrants of the 
old world. She has already dropped a tear of joy upon the pros- 
pect of recovering among us her first and original dignity. A 
good government is an engine not less necessary to ensure us 
success in these glorious purposes than ammunition and fire-arms. 
The way of duty is plain. Let a Convention be chosen, to alter and 
amend the government. This measure alone will restore vigor and 
union to Pennsylvania. Say not, my dear countrymen, that this 
is not the time, the enemy are at our gates, let us first repel them. 
Look at our militia on a field day see the attempts of the friends 
to the Constitution to open our courts hear the complaints and 
murmurs of the people. They all proclaim that NOW is the time 
for altering our Constitution. No confusion can arise from it. The 
gentlemen in the opposition declare their determination to sup- 
port the present Assembly in the execution of every law necessary 

t The gentlemen in the opposition to the government have con- 
stantly prayed, that the Constitution might be referred to the arbitration 
of a Convention, and have declared their willingness to submit to, or con- 
cur in the execution of it, if it should be confirmed by a representation 
of the people fairly chosen. I am sorry to find upon the Journals of the 
Assembly, an address from a battalion of militia in Chester county, to the 
Honourable House, assuring them, that "they will support the present 
government with their lives and fortunes." Such addresses indicated the 
weakness, and foreboded the present contemptible situation of the court 
of Britain. They were presented in times similar to our own, viz. when 
the American colonies were upon their knees to the throne, praying to 
be governed by their own representatives, and to be delivered from 
impending slavery. But it is characteristic of the present Constitution, 
that, in the first year of its execution, the journals of our rulers were 
stained with threats of bloodshed, against men who only petitioned for a 
redress of grievances. 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 81 

for the safety and defence of the State, and above all in the 
execution of the militia and test laws. They have no interest 
unconnected with yours. They see with the same distress as 
you do the Tories triumphing in our disunion. Be not deceived. 
The Tories are not enemies to the present government; they 
enjoy the benefits of its weakness, and there is good authority 
to say they have secretly helped to carry it into execution. Let 
us beware of being imposed upon by the popular cry of the 
necessity of the times. When the Dissenters in Virginia and 
South Carolina prayed for the abolition of the Episcopal estab- 
lishment in those States, the High Churchmen acknowledged that 
their demands were just, but said, that this was not the time for 
attending to them, and that such a change in the government 
would throw all things into confusion. The demands were not- 
withstanding complied with, and an union unparalleled in for- 
mer times was immediately produced in those States. When a 
declaration of independence last summer appeared to be the 
only measure that could save America, the Tories and moderate 
men acknowledged the justice of our separation from Great 
Britain, but said, "This is not the time." The event showed that 
the time was come, for, exclusive of the advantages we have 
gained from it in foreign Courts, it served to precipitate the 
timid, the doubtful and the disaffected characters from their 
mixture with the rpal Whigs, and although it lessened the num- 
bers in the opposition, it added to their strength by producing 
union and decision among them. To delay justice (has been em- 
phatically said) is to deny it. In like manner to delay liberty is to 
take it away. 

The Convention of New York formed their government 
within the reach of the thunder of the enemy's cannon, and while 
one half of their State was in their possession. Is our situation 
more dangerous than it was last year? The members of the late 
Convention were chosen on a day when the Associators of the 
whole State were in motion. The Constitution was made while 
above 5000 of them were in the field. The sense of the people 
was not asked upon the subject of the Constitution; but it was 



82 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

given in the most public manner. No more than 1500 freemen 
voted for its being executed, for that number only took the 
oath of allegiance to the Constitution at the election in October. 
Let us talk no more then of the "necessity of the times" This is 
the State apology at St. James's for all the crimes of the present 
reign and for all the ravages and bloodshed we have witnessed 
in America. The State of Massachusetts Bay are preparing for 
an invasion; they expect General Burgoyne every hour in their 
harbours with a powerful army, and yet in a Boston paper, of 
the 5th of May, I find the following resolution of their Assembly 
and Council, 

STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS BAY. 
In the HOUSE of REPRESENTATIVES, M*y 5, 1777. 

"Resolved, That it be, and hereby is recommended to the 
several towns and places in this State, impowered by the laws 
thereof, to send Members to the General Assembly, that, at their 
next election of a Member or Members to represent them, they 
make choice of men, in whose integrity and abilities they can 
place the greatest confidence; and, in addition to the common 
and ordinary powers of representation, instruct them in one 
Body with the Council, to form such a Constitution of Govern- 
ment, as they shall judge best calculated to promote the happiness 
of this State; and when completed, to cause the same to be 
printed in all the Boston News-Papers, and also in Hand-Bills, 
one of which to be transmitted to the Selectmen of each town, 
or the Committee of each plantation, to be by them laid before 
their respective towns or plantations, at a regular meeting of the 
inhabitants thereof, to be called for that purpose; in order to 
its being, by each town and plantation, duly considered. And a 
return of their approbation or disapprobation to be made into 
the Secretary's Office of this State, at a reasonable time to be 
fixed on by the General Court, specifying the numbers present 
in such meeting, voting for, and those voting against the same: 
And if, upon a fair examination of the said returns by the Gen- 



ON GOOD GOVERNMENT 83 

eral Court, or such Committee as they shall appoint for that 
purpose, it shall appear, that the said Form of Government 
is approved of by at least two thirds of those who are free, and 
twenty one years of age, belonging to this State, and present 
in the several meetings, then the General Court shall be im- 
powered to establish the same as the Constitution and Form 
of Government of the State of Massachusetts Bay, according to 
which the inhabitants thereof shall be governed in all succeeding 
generations, unless the same shall be altered by their own express 
direction, or that of at least two thirds of them. And it is further 
recommended to the Selectmen of the several towns, in the 
return of their precepts for the choice of Representatives, to 
signify their having considered this Resolve, and their doings 
thereon." 

But further, recollect, my dear countrymen, our conduct 
upon reading the resolution of the Honourable Congress of the 
1 5th of May, 1776. We seized it as a Warrant that proclaimed 
liberty to us and our posterity for ever. It was said by some 
people at that time, "Let the Assembly execute that resolution;" 
but we spurned the advice, and we acted like men. We said, that 
the "Assembly was not chosen by a majority of votes in the 
State," owing to the inequality of our representation, and that 
they wanted the "confidence of the people." We thought noth- 
ing then of the loss of time Occasioned by the meeting of a 
Conference of Committees, to settle the mode and time of choos- 
ing a Convention. The delay of months, the distractions of the 
State, and the danger of an invasion, were thought to be trifling 
when compared with the prospect of a good Constitution, that 
should immediately collect and exert the Whig strength of the 
state. 

Thus have I finished my observations upon the Constitution 
of Pennsylvania. I have taken notice only of its most essential 
defects, and have aimed to discuss them with candor. The occa- 
sional remarks upon the proceedings of the Assembly, are to 
be charged entirely to the faults of the Constitution. I believe 



84 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

the gentlemen in power have nothing in view but the freedom 
and independance of the State; and such has been the zeal and 
integrity of many of them in the pursuit of those great objects, 
that it gives me pain to reflect, that I have been obliged to differ 
from them in the best means of obtaining them. 

With this declaration I shall close my letters to the people 
of Pennsylvania. Accept thou dear asylum of my ancestors, 
nurse of my infancy, protectress of my childhood, and generous 
rewarder of the toils of my youth, accept of these humble efforts 
to restore thee to freedom and happiness! If I have laboured 
in vain, I shall henceforth mourn in secret only over my beloved 
country, and lament the day that I was born a Pennsylvanian. 



ON EDUCATION 



OF THE MODE OF EDUCATION 
PROPER IN A REPUBLIC 



THE BUSINESS of education has acquired a new complexion by 
the independence of our country. The form of government we 
have assumed, has created a new class of duties to every Ameri- 
can. It becomes us, therefore, to examine our former habits upon 
this subject, and in laying the foundations for nurseries of wise 
and good men, to adapt our modes of teaching to the peculiar 
form of our government. 

The first remark that I shall make upon this subject is, that 
an education in our own, is to be preferred to an education in a 
foreign country. The principle of patriotism stands in need of 
the reinforcement of prejudice, and it is well known that our 
strongest prejudices in favour of our country are formed in the 
first one and twenty years of our lives. The policy of the Lace- 
demonians is well worthy of our imitation. When Antipater 
demanded fifty of their children as hostages for the fulfillment 
of a distant engagement, those wise republicans refused to com- 
ply with his demand, but readily offered him double the num- 
ber of their adult citizens, whose habits and prejudices could 
not be shaken by residing in a foreign country. Passing by, in 
this place, the advantages to the community from the early at- 
tachment of youth to the laws and constitution of their country, 
I shall only remark, that young men who have trodden the 
paths of science together, or have joined in the same sports, % 
whether of swimming, skating, fishing, or hunting, generally feel, 

8? 



88 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

thro' life, such ties to each other, as add greatly to the obligations 
of mutual benevolence. 

I conceive the education of our youth in this country to be 
peculiarly necessary in Pennsylvania, while our citizens are 
composed of the natives of so many different kingdoms in 
Europe. Our schools of learning, by producing one general, 
and uniform system of education, will render the mass of the 
people more homogeneous, and thereby fit them more easily for 
uniform and peaceable government. 

I proceed in the next place, to enquire, what mode of edu- 
cation we shall adopt so as to secure to the state all the advan- 
tages that are to be derived from the proper instruction of youth; 
and here I beg leave to remark, that the only foundation for a 
useful education in a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without 
this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no 
liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican gov- 
ernments. 

Such is my veneration for every religion that reveals the 
attributes of the Deity, or a future state of rewards and punish- 
ments, that I had rather see the opinions of Confucius or Ma- 
hohied inculcated upon our youth, than see them grow up 
wholly devoid of a system of religious principles. But the re- 
ligion I mean to recommend in this place, is that of the New 
Testament. 

It is foreign to my purpose to hint at the arguments which 
establish the truth of the Christian revelation. My only business 
is to declare, that all its doctrines and precepts are calculated 
to promote the happiness of society, and the safety and well 
being of civil government. A Christian cannot fail of being a 
republican. The history of the creation of man, and of the re- 
lation of our species to each other by birth, which is recorded 
in the Old Testament, is the best refutation that can be given 
to the divine right of kings, and the strongest argument that can 
be used in favor of the original and natural equality of all man- 
kind. A Christian, I say again, cannot fail of being a republican, 
for every precept of the Gospel inculcates those degrees of hu- 



ON EDUCATION 89 

mility, self-denial, and brotherly kindness, which are directly 
opposed to the pride of monarchy and the pageantry of a court. 
A Christian cannot fail of being useful to the republic, for his 
religion teacheth him, that no man "liveth to himself." And 
lastly, a Christian cannot fail of being wholly inoffensive, for 
his religion teacheth him, in all things to do to others what he 
would wish, in like circumstances, they should do to him. 

I am aware that I dissent from one of those paradoxical 
opinions with which modern times abound; and that it is im- 
proper to fill the minds of youth with religious prejudices of 
any kind, and that they should be left to choose their own 
principles, after they have arrived at an age in which they are 
capable of judging for themselves. Could we preserve the mind 
in childhood and youth a perfect blank, this plan of education 
would have more to recommend it; but this we know to be 
impossible. The human mind runs as naturally into principles 
as it does after facts. It submits with difficulty to those restraints 
or partial discoveries which are imposed upon it in the infancy 
of reason. Hence the impatience of children to be informed 
upon all subjects that relate to the invisible world. But I beg 
leave to ask, why should we pursue a different plan of education 
with respect to religion, from that which we pursue in teaching 
the arts and sciences? Do we leave our youth to acquire systems 
of geography, philosophy, or politics, till they have arrived at 
an age in which they are capable of judging for themselves? 
We do not. I claim no more then for religion, than for the other 
sciences, and I add further, that if our youth are disposed after 
they are of age to think for themselves, a knowledge of one 
system, will be the best means of conducting them in a free 
enquiry into other systems of religion, just as an acquaintance 
with one system of philosophy is the best introduction to the 
study of all the other systems in the world. 

Next to the duty which young men owe to their Creator, 
I wish to see a regard to their country, inculcated upon them. 
When the Duke of Sully became prime minister to Henry the 
IVth of France, the first thing he did, he tells us, "Was to subdue 



9 o SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

and forget his own heart." The same duty is incumbent upon 
every citizen of a republic. Our country includes family, friends 
and property, and should be preferred to them all. Let our 
pupil be taught that he does not belong to himself, but that he 
is public property. Let him be taught to love his family, but 
let him be taught, at the same time, that he must forsake, and 
even forget them, when the welfare of his country requires it. 
He must watch for the state, as if its liberties depended upon 
his vigilance alone, but he must do this in such a manner as not 
to defraud his creditors, or neglect his family. He must love 
private life, but he must decline no station, however public or 
responsible it may be, when called to it by the suffrages of his 
fellow citizens. He must love popularity, but he must despise 
it when set in competition with the dictates of Jiis judgement, 
or the real interest of his country. He must love character, and 
have a due sense of injuries, but he must be taught to appeal 
only to the laws of the state, to defend the one, and punish the 
other. He must love family honor, but he must be taught that 
neither the rank nor antiquity of his ancestors, can command 
respect, without personal merit. He must avoid neutrality in 
all questions that divide the state, but he must shun the rage, 
and acrimony of party spirit. He must be taught to love his 
fellow creatures in every part of the world, but he must cherish 
with a more intense and peculiar affection, the citizens of Penn- 
sylvania and of the United States. I do not wish to see our youth 
educated with a single prejudice against any nation or country; 
but we impose a task upon human nature, repugnant alike to 
reason, revelation and the ordinary dimensions of the human 
heart, when we require him to embrace, with equal affection, 
the whole family of mankind. He must be taught to amass wealth, 
but it must be only to encrease his power of contributing to the 
wants and demands of the state. He must be indulged occasion- 
ally in amusements, but he must be taught that study and busi- 
ness should be his principal pursuits in life. Above all he must 
love life, and endeavour to acquire as many of its conveniences 
as possible by industry and economy, but he must be taught 



ON EDUCATION 91 

that this life "is not his own," when the safety of his country 
requires it. These are practicable lessons, and the history of the 
commonwealths of Greece and Rome show, that human nature, 
without the aids of Christianity, has attained these degrees of 
perfection. 

While we inculcate these republican duties upon our pupil, 
we must not neglect, at the same time, to inspire him with re- 
publican principles. He must be taught that there can be no 
durable liberty but in a republic, and that government, like all 
other sciences, is of a progressive nature. The chains which 
have bound this science in Europe are happily unloosed in 
America. Here it is open to investigation and improvement. 
While philosophy has protected us by its discoveries from a 
thousand natural evils, government has unhappily followed with 
an unequal pace. It would be to dishonor human genius, only 
to name the many defects which still exist in the best systems 
of legislation. We daily see matter of a perishable nature ren- 
dered durable by certain chemical operations. In like manner, 
I conceive, that it is possible to combine power in such a way 
as not only to encrease the happiness, but to promote the dura- 
tion of republican forms of government far beyond the terms 
limited for them by history, or the common opinions of man- 
kind. 

To assist in rendering religious, moral and political instruction 
more effectual upon the minds of our youth, it will be necessary 
to subject their bodies to physical discipline. To obviate the in- 
conveniences of their studious and sedentary mode of life, they 
should live upon a temperate diet, consisting chiefly of broths, 
milk and vegetables. The black broth of Sparta, and the barley 
broth of Scotland, have been alike celebrated for their beneficial 
effects upon the minds of young people. They should avoid 
tasting spirituous liquors. They should also be accustomed occa- 
sionally to work with their hands, ill the intervals of study, and 
in the busy seasons of the year in the country. Moderate sleep, 
silence, occasional solitude and cleanliness, should be inculcated 
upon them, and the utmost advantage should be taken of a 



92 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

proper direction of those great principles in human conduct, 
sensibility, habit, imitations and association. 

The influence of these physical causes will be powerful upon 
the intellects, as well as upon the principles and morals of young 
people. 

To those who have studied human nature, it will not appear 
paradoxical to recommend, in this essay, a particular attention 
to vocal music. Its mechanical effects in civilizing the mind, 
and thereby preparing it for the influence of religion and gov- 
ernment, have been so often felt and recorded, that it will be 
unnecessary to mention facts in favour of its usefulness, in order 
to excite a proper attention to it. 

I cannot help bearing a testimony, in this place, against the 
custom, which prevails in some parts of America, (but which 
is daily falling into disuse in Europe) of crowding boys together 
under one roof for the purpose of education. The practice is 
the gloomy remains of monkish ignorance, and is as unfavorable 
to the improvements of the mind in useful learning, as monas- 
teries are to the spirit of religion. I grant this mode of secluding 
boys from the intercourse of private families, has a tendency to 
make them scholars, but our business is to make them men, citi- 
zens and Christians. The vices of young people are generally 
learned from each other. The vices of adults seldom infect them. 
By separating them from each other, therefore, in their hours 
of relaxation from study, we secure their morals from a principal 
source of corruption, while we improve their manners, by sub- 
jecting them to those restraints which the difference of age and 
sex, naturally produce in private families. 

From the observations that have been made it is plain, that 
I consider it is possible to convert men into republican machines. 
This must be done, if we expect them to perform their parts 
properly, in the great machine of the government of the state. 
That republic is sophisticated with monarchy or aristocracy 
that does not revolve upon the wills of the people, and these 
must be fitted to each other by means of education before they 
can be made to produce regularity and unison in government. 



ON EDUCATION 93 

Having pointed out those general principles, which should 
be inculcated alike in all the schools of the state, I proceed now 
to make a few remarks upon the method of conducting, what 
is commonly called, a liberal or learned education in a republic. 

I shall begin this part of my subject, by bearing a testimony 
against the common practice of attempting to teach boys the 
learned languages, and the arts and sciences too early in life. The 
first twelve years of life are barely sufficient to instruct a boy 
in reading, writing and arithmetic. With these, he may be taught 
those modern languages which are necessary for him to speak. 
The state of the memory, in early life, is favorable to the acqui- 
sition of languages, especially when they are conveyed to the 
mind, through the ear. It is, moreover, in early life only, that the 
organs of speech yield in such a manner as to favour the just 
pronunciation of foreign languages. 

Too much pains cannot be taken to teach our youth to read 
and write our American language with propriety and elegance. 
The study of the Greek language constituted a material part 
of the literature of the Athenians, hence the sublimity, purity 
and immortality of so many of their writings. The advantages 
of a perfect knowledge of our language to young men intended 
for the professions of law, physic, or divinity are too obvious 
to be mentioned, but in a state which boasts of the first com- 
mercial city in America, I wish to see it cultivated by young 
men, who are intended for the compting house, for many such, 
I hope, will be educated in our colleges. The time is past when 
an academical education was thought to be unnecessary to 
qualify a young man for merchandize. I conceive no profession 
is capable of receiving more embellishments from it. The French 
and German languages should likewise be carefully taught in 
all our colleges. They abound with useful books upon all sub- 
jects. So important and necessary are those languages, that a 
degree should never be conferred upon a young man who can- 
not speak or translate them. 

Connected with the study of languages is the study of elo- 
quence. It is well known how great a part it constituted of the 



94 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

Roman education. It is the first accomplishment in a republic, 
and often sets the whole machine of government in motion. Let 
our youth, therefore, be instructed in this art. We do not extol 
it too highly when we attribute as much to the power of elo- 
quence as to the sword, in bringing about the American Revo- 
lution. 

With the usual arts and sciences that are taught in our Ameri- 
can colleges, I wish to see a regular course of lectures given 
upon History and Chronology. The science of government, 
whether it relates to constitutions or laws, can only be advanced 
by a careful selection of facts, and these are to be found chiefly 
in history. Above all, let our youth be instructed in the history 
of the ancient republics, and the progress of liberty and tyranny 
in the different states of Europe. I wish likewise to see the numer- 
ous facts that relate to the origin and present state of commerce, 
together with the nature and principles of money, reduced to 
such a system, as to be intelligible and agreeable to a young man. 
If we consider the commerce of our metropolis only as the 
avenue of the wealth of the state, the study of it merits a place 
in a young man's education; but, I consider commerce in a 
much higher light when I recommend the study of it in re- 
publican seminaries. I view it as the best security against the 
influence of hereditary monopolies of land, and, therefore, the 
surest protection against aristocracy. I consider its effects as next 
to those of religion in humanizing mankind, and lastly, I view 
it as the means of uniting the different nations of the world 
together by the ties of mutual wants and obligations. 

Chemistry by unfolding to us the effects of heat and mixture, 
enlarges our acquaintance with the wonders of nature and the 
mysteries of art; hence it has become, in most of the universities 
of Europe, a necessary branch of a gentleman's education. In a 
young country, where improvements in agriculture and manu- 
factures are so much to be desired, the cultivation of this science, 
which explains the principles of both of them, should be con- 
sidered as an object of the utmost importance. 

Again, let your youth be instructed in all the means of pro- 



ON EDUCATION 95 

moting national prosperity and independence, whether they 
relate to improvements in agriculture, manufactures, or inland 
navigation. Let him be instructed further in the general principles 
of legislation, whether they relate to revenue, or to the preserva- 
tion of life, liberty or property. Let him be directed frequently 
to attend the courts of justice, where he will have the best op- 
portunities of acquiring habits of comparing, and arranging his 
ideas by observing the discovery of truth, in the examination 
of witnesses, and where he will hear the laws of the state ex- 
plained, with all the advantages of that species of eloquence 
which belongs to the bar. Of so much importance do I con- 
ceive it to be, to a young man, to attend occasionally to the 
decisions of our courts of law, that I wish to see our colleges 
established, only in county towns. 

But further, considering the nature of our connection with 
the United States, it will be necessary to make our pupil ac- 
quainted with all the prerogatives of the national government. 
He must be instructed in the nature and variety of treaties. He 
must know the difference in the powers and duties of the several 
species of ambassadors. He must be taught wherein the obliga- 
tions of individuals and of states are the same, and wherein they 
differ. In short, he must acquire a general knowledge of all those 
laws and forms, which unite the sovereigns of the earth, or 
separate them from each other. 

I beg pardon for having delayed so long to say any thing 
of the separate and peculiar mode of education proper for women 
in a republic. I am sensible that they must concur in all our plans 
of education for young men, or no laws will ever render them 
effectual. To qualify our women for this purpose, they should 
not only be instructed in the usual branches of female education, 
but they should be taught the principles of liberty and govern- 
ment; and the obligations of patriotism should be inculcated 
upon them. The opinions and conduct of men are often regu- 
Jated by the women in the most arduous enterprizes of life; and 
their approbation is frequently the principal reward of the hero's 
dangers, and the patriot's toils. Besides, the first impressions upon 



96 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

the minds of children are generally derived from the women. 
Of how much consequence, therefore, is it in a republic, that 
they should think justly upon the great subject of liberty and 
government! 

The complaints that have been made against religion, liberty 
and learning, have been, against each of them in a separate state. 
Perhaps like certain liquors, they should only be used in a state 
of mixture. They mutually assist in correcting the abuses, and 
in improving the good effects of each other. From the com- 
bined and reciprocal influence of religion, liberty and learning 
upon the morals, manners and knowledge of individuals, of these, 
upon government, and of government, upon individuals, it is 
impossible to measure the degrees of happiness and perfection 
to which mankind may be raised. For my part,- 1 can form no 
ideas of the golden age, so much celebrated by the poets, more 
delightful, than the contemplation of that happiness which it is 
now in the power of the legislature of Pennsylvania to confer 
upon her citizens, by establishing proper modes and places of 
education in every part of the state. 



EDUCATION AGREEABLE TO A 
REPUBLICAN FORM OF 
GOVERNMENT 



BEFORE I proceed to the subject of this essay, I shall point out, 
in a few words, the influence and advantages of learning upon 
mankind. 

I. It is friendly to religion, inasmuch as it assists in removing 
prejudice, superstition and enthusiasm, in promoting just notions 
of the Deity, and in enlarging our knowledge of his works. 

II. It is favourable to liberty. Freedom can exist only in the 
society of knowledge. Without learning, men are incapable of 
knowing their rights, and where learning is confined to a few 
people, liberty can be neither equal nor universal. 

III. It promotes just ideas of laws and government. "When 
the clouds of ignorance are dispelled (says the Marquis of 
Beccaria) by the radiance of knowledge, power trembles, but 
the authority of laws remains immovable." 

IV. It is friendly to manners. Learning in all countries, 
promotes civilization, and the pleasures of society and conver- 
sation. 

V. It promotes agriculture, the great basis of national wealth 
and happiness. Agriculture is as much a science as hydraulics, 
or optics, and has been equally indebted to the experiments and 
researches of learned men. The highly cultivated state, and the 
immense profits of the farms in England, are derived wholly 
from the patronage which agriculture has received in that coun- 
try, from learned men and learned societies. 

97 



98 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

VI. Manufactures of all kinds owe their perfection chiefly 
to learning hence the nations of Europe advance in manufac- 
tures, knowledge, and commerce, only in proportion as they 
cultivate the arts and sciences. 

For the purpose of diffusing knowledge through every part 
of the state, I beg leave to propose the following simple plan. 

I. Let there be one university in the state, and let this be 
established in the capital. Let law, physic, divinity, the law of 
nature and nations, economy, &c. be taught in it by public lec- 
tures in the winter season, after the manner of the European 
universities, and let the professors receive such salaries from the 
state as will enable them to deliver their lectures at a moderate 
price. 

II. Let there be four colleges. One in Philadelphia; one at 
Carlisle; a third, for the benefit of our German fellow citizens, 
at Lancaster; and a fourth, some years hence at Pittsburgh. In 
these colleges, let young men be instructed in mathematics and 
in the higher branches of science, in the same manner that they 
are now taught in our American colleges. After they have re- 
ceived a testimonial from one of these colleges, let them, if they 
can afford it, complete their studies by spending a season or two 
in attending the lectures in the university. I prefer four colleges 
in the state to one or two, for there is a certain size of colleges 
as there is of towns and armies, that is most favourable to morals 
and good government. Oxford and Cambridge in England are 
the seats of dissipation, while the more numerous, and less 
crowded universities and colleges in Scotland, are remarkable 
for the order, diligence, and decent behaviour of their students. 

II. Let there be free schools established in every township, 
or in districts consisting of one hundred families. In these schools 
let children be taught to read and write the English and German 
languages, and the use of figures. Such of them as have parents 
that can afford to send them from home, and are disposed to 
extend their educations, may remove their children from the 
free school to one of the colleges. 

By this plan the whole state will be tied together by one 



ON EDUCATION 99 

system of education. The university will in time furnish masters 
for the colleges, and the colleges will furnish masters for the 
free schools, while the free schools, in their turns, will supply 
the colleges and the university with scholars, students and pupils. 
The same systems of grammar, oratory and philosophy, will be 
taught in every part of the state, and the literary features of 
Pennsylvania will thus designate one great, and equally enlight- 
ened family. 

But, how shall we bear the expense of these literary institu- 
tions? I answer These institutions will lessen our taxes. They 
will enlighten us in the great business of finance they will teach 
us to increase the ability of the state to support government, 
by increasing the profits of agriculture, and by promoting manu- 
factures. They will teach us all the modern improvements and 
advantages of inland navigation. They will defend us from 
hasty and expensive experiments in government, by unfolding 
to us the experience and folly of past ages, and thus, instead of 
adding to our taxes and debts, they will furnish us with the 
true secret of lessening and discharging both of them. 

But, shall the estates of orphans, bachelors and persons who 
have no children, be taxed to pay for the support of schools from 
which they can derive no benefit? I answer in the affirmative, to 
the first part of the objection, and I deny the truth of the latter 
part of it. Every member of the community is interested in the 
propagation of virtue and knowledge in the state. But I will go 
further, and add, it will be true economy in individuals to sup- 
port public schools. The bachelor will in time save his tax for 
this purpose, by being able to sleep with fewer bolts and locks 
to his doors the estates of orphans will in time be benefited, by 
being protected from the ravages of unprincipled and idle boys, 
and the children of wealthy parents will be less tempted, by bad 
company, to extravagance. Fewer pillories and whipping posts, 
and smaller gaols, with their usual expenses and taxes, will be 
necessary when our youth are properly educated, than at pres- 
ent; I believe it could be proved, that the expenses of confining, 
trying and executing criminals, amount every year, in most of 



ioo SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

the counties, to more money than would be sufficient to main- 
tain all the schools that would be necessary in each county. The 
confessions of these criminals generally show us, that their vices 
and punishments are the fatal consequences of the want of a 
proper education in early life. 

I submit these detached hints to the consideration of the 
legislature and of the citizens of Pennsylvania. The plan for 
the free schools is taken chiefly from the plans which have long 
been used with success in Scotland, and in the eastern states * 
of America, where the influence of learning, in promoting re- 
ligion, morals, manners and good government, has never been 
exceeded in any country. 

The manner in which these schools should be supported and 
governed the modes of determining the characters and quali- 
fications of schoolmasters, and the arrangement of families in 
each district, so that children of the same religious sect and 
nation, may be educated as much as possible together, will form 
a proper part of a law for the establishment of schools, and 
therefore does not come within the limits of this plan. 

* There are 600 of these schools in the small state of Connecticut, 
which at this time have in them 25,000 scholars. 



PLAN OF A FEDERAL UNIVERSITY 



"YOUR GOVERNMENT cannot be executed. It is too extensive for 
a republic. It is contrary to the habits of the people," say the 
enemies of the Constitution of the United States. However 
opposite to the opinions and wishes of a majority of the citizens 
of the United States, these declarations and predictions may be, 
they will certainly come to pass, unless the people are prepared 
for our new form of government by an education adapted to the 
new and peculiar situation of our country. To effect this great 
and necessary work, let one of the first acts of the new Congress 
be, to establish within the district to be allotted for them, a 
federal university, into which the youth of the United States 
shall be received after they have finished their studies, and taken 
their degrees in the colleges of their respective states. In this 
University, let those branches of literature only be taught, which 
are calculated to prepare our youth for civil and public life. 
These branches should be taught by means of lectures, and the 
following arts and sciences should be the subjects of them. 

1. The principles and forms of government, applied in a 
particular manner to the explanation of every part of the Con- 
stitution and laws of the United States, together with the laws 
of nature and nations, which last should include every thing that 
relates to peace, war, treaties, ambassadors, and the like. 

2. History both ancient and modern, and chronology. 

3. Agriculture in all its numerous and extensive branches. 

4. The principles and practice of manufactures. 

5. The history, principles, objects and channels of commerce. 

101 



loz SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

6. Those parts of mathematics which are necessary to the 
division of property, to finance, and to the principles and prac- 
tice of war, for there is too much reason to fear that war will 
continue, for some time to come, to be the unChristian mode of 
deciding disputes between Christian nations. 

7. Those parts of natural philosophy and chemistry, which 
admit of an application to agriculture, manufactures, commerce 
and war. 

8. Natural history, which includes the history of animals, 
vegetables and fossils. To render instruction in these branches 01 
science easy, it will be necessary to establish a museum, as also 
a garden, in which not only all the shrubs, &c. but all the forest 
trees of the United States should be cultivated. The great Lin- 
naeus of Upsal enlarged the commerce of Sweden, by his discov- 
eries in natural history. He once saved the Swedish navy by find- 
ing out the time in which a worm laid its eggs, and recommend- 
ing the immersion of the timber, of which the ships were built, 
at that season wholly under water. So great were the services 
this illustrious naturalist rendered his country by the application 
of his knowledge to agriculture, manufactures and commerce, 
that the present king of Sweden pronounced an eulogimn upon 
him from his throne, soon after his death. 

9. Philology which should include, besides rhetoric and criti- 
cism, lectures upon the construction and pronunciation of the 
English language. Instruction in this branch of literature will 
become the more necessary in America, as our intercourse must 
soon cease with the bar, the stage and the pulpits of Great Britain, 
from whence we received our knowledge of the pronunciation of 
the English language. Even modern English books should cease 
to be the models of style in the United States. The present is the 
age of simplicity in writing in America. The turgid style of John- 
son the purple glare of Gibbon, and even the studied and thick 
set metaphors of Junius, are all equally unnatural, and should 
not be admitted into our country. . . . The cultivation and per- 
fection of our language becomes a matter of consequence when 
viewed in another light. It will probably be spoken by more 



ON EDUCATION 103 

people in the course of two or three centuries, than ever spoke 
any one language at one time since the creation of the world. 
When we consider the influence which the prevalence of only 
two languages, viz. the English and the Spanish, in the extensive 
regions of North and South America, will have upon manners, 
commerce, knowledge and civilization, scenes of human happi- 
ness and glory open before us, which elude from their magnitude 
the utmost grasp of the human understanding. 

10. The German and French languages should be taught in 
this University. The many excellent books which are written in 
both these languages upon all subjects, more especially upon 
those which relate to the advancement of national improvements 
of all kinds, will render a knowledge of them an essential part 
of the education of a legislator of the United States. 

1 1 . All those athletic and manly exercises should likewise be 
taught in the University, which are calculated to impart health, 
strength, and elegance to the human body. 

To render the instruction of our youth as easy and extensive 
as possible in several of the above mentioned branches of litera- 
ture, let four young men of good education and active minds be 
sent abroad at the public expense, to collect and transmit to the 
professors of the said branches all the improvements that are 
daily made in Europe, in agriculture, manufactures and com- 
merce, and in the art of war and practical government. This 
measure is rendered the more necessary from the distance of the 
United States from Europe, by which means the rays of knowl- 
edge strike the United States so partially, that they can be 
brought to a useful focus, only by employing suitable persons 
to collect and transmit them to our country. It is in this manner 
that the northern nations of Europe have imported so much 
knowledge from their southern neighbours, that the history of 
agriculture, manufactures, commerce, revenues and military arts 
of one of these nations will soon be alike applicable to all of them. 

Besides sending four young men abroad to collect and trans- 
mit knowledge for the benefit of our country, two young men 
of suitable capacities should be employed at the public expense 



io 4 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

in exploring the vegetable, mineral and animal productions of 
our country, in procuring histories and samples of each of them, 
and in transmitting them to the professor of natural history. It 
is in consequence of the discoveries made by young gentlemen 
employed for these purposes, that Sweden, Denmark and Russia 
have extended their manufactures and commerce, so as to rival 
in both the oldest nations in Europe. 

Let the Congress allow a liberal salary to the Principal of this 
university. Let it be his business to govern the students, and to 
inspire them by his conversation, and by occasional public dis- 
courses, with federal and patriotic sentiments. Let this Principal 
be a man of extensive education, liberal manners and dignified 
deportment. 

Let the Professors of each of the branches that have been 
mentioned, have a moderate salary of ijo/. or 2oo/. a year, and 
let them depend upon the number of their pupils to supply the 
deficiency of their maintenance from their salaries. Let each 
pupil pay for each course of lectures two or three guineas. 

Let the degrees conferred in this university receive a new 
name, that shall designate the design of an education for civil 
and public life. 

In thirty years after this university is established, let an act 
of Congress be passed to prevent any person being chosen or 
appointed into power or office, who has not taken a degree in the 
federal university. We require certain qualifications in lawyers, 
physicians and clergymen, before we commit our property, our 
lives or our souls to their care. We even refuse to commit the 
charge of a ship to a pilot, who cannot produce a certificate of 
his education and knowledge in his business. Why then should 
we commit our country, which includes liberty, property, life, 
wives and children, to men who cannot produce vouchers of 
their qualifications for the important trust? We are restrained 
from injuring ourselves by employing quacks in law; why should 
we not be restrained in like manner, by law, from employing 
quacks in government? 

Should 'this plan of a federal university or one like it be 



ON EDUCATION 105 

adopted, then will begin the golden age of the United States. 
While the business of education in Europe consists in lectures 
upon the ruins of Palmyra and the antiquities of Herculaneum, 
or in disputes about Hebrew points, Greek particles, or the 
accent and quantity of the Roman language, the youth of Amer- 
ica will be employed in acquiring those branches of knowledge 
which increase the conveniences of life, lessen human misery, 
improve our country, promote population, exalt the human un- 
derstanding, and establish domestic, social and political happiness. 

Let it not be said, "that this is not the time for such a literary 
and political establishment. Let us first restore public credit, 
by funding or paying our debts, let us regulate our militia, let 
us build a navy, and let us protect and extend our commerce. 
After this, we shall have leisure and money to establish a Univer- 
sity for the purposes that have been mentioned." This is false 
reasoning. We shall never restore public credit, regulate our 
militia, build a navy, or revive our commerce, until we remove 
the ignorance and prejudices, and change the habits of our citi- 
zens, and this can never be done 'till we inspire them with federal 
principles, which can only be effected by our young men meet- 
ing and spending two or three years together in a national Uni- 
versity, and afterwards disseminating their knowledge and prin- 
ciples through every county, township and village of the United 
States. 'Till this is done Senators and Representatives of the 
United States, you will undertake to make bricks without straw. 
Your supposed union in Congress will be a rope of sand. The 
inhabitants of Massachusetts began the business of government 
by establishing the University of Cambridge, and the wisest 
Kings in Europe have always found their literary institutions the 
surest means of establishing their power as well as of promoting 
the prosperity of their people. 

These hints for establishing the Constitution and happiness 
of the United States upon a permanent foundation, are submitted 
to the friends of the federal government in each of the states, 
by a private 

CITIZEN OF PENNSYLVANIA. 



THE AMUSEMENTS AND 

PUNISHMENTS WHICH ARE 

PROPER FOR SCHOOLS 

Addressed to George Clymer, Esq. 



DEAR SIR, 

The last time I had the pleasure of being in your company, 
you did me the honour to request my opinion upon the AMUSE- 
MENTS and PUNISHMENTS which are proper for schools. The 
subjects are of a very opposite nature, but I shall endeavour to 
comply with your wishes, by sending you afew thoughts upon 
each of them. I am sure you will not reject my opinions because 
they are contrary to received practices, for I know that you are 
accustomed to think for yourself, and that every proposition that 
has for its objects the interests of humanity and your country, 
will be treated by you with attention and candor. 

I shall begin with the subjects of AMUSEMENTS. Montesquieu 
informs us that the exercises of the last day of the life of Epami- 
nondas, were the same as his amusements in his youth. Herein 
we have an epitome of the perfection of education. The amuse- 
ments of Epaminondas were of a military nature; but as the pro- 
fession of arms is the business of only a small part of mankind, 
and happily much less necessary in the United States than in 
ancient Greece, I would propose that the amusements of our 
youth, at school, should consist of such exercises as will be most 
subservient to their future employments in life* These are; 
i. agriculture; 2. mechanical occupations; and 3. the business 
of the learned professions. 

1 06 



ON EDUCATION 107 

I. There is a variety in the employments of agriculture which 
may readily be suited to the genius, taste, and strength of young 
people. An experiment has been made of the efficacy of these 
employments, as amusements, in the Methodist College at Abing- 
ton, in Maryland; and, I have been informed, with the happiest 
effects. A large lot is divided between the scholars, and premiums 
are adjudged to those of them who produce the most vegetables 
from their grounds, or who keep them in the best order. 

II. As the employments of agriculture cannot afford amuse- 
ment at all seasons of the year, or in cities I would propose, 
that children should be allured to seek amusements in such of the 
mechanical arts as are suited to their strength and capacities. 
Where is the boy who does not delight in the use of a hammer 
a chisel or a saw? and who has not enjoyed a high degree of 
pleasure in his youth, in constructing a miniature house? 

III. To train the youth who are intended for the learned pro- 
fessions or for merchandize, to the duties of their future employ- 
ments, by means of useful amusements, which are related to those 
employments, will be impracticable; but their amusements may 
be derived from cultivating a spot of ground; for where is the 
lawyer, the physician, the divine, or the merchant, who has not 
indulged or felt a passion, in some part of his life, for rural im- 
provements? Indeed I conceive the seeds of knowledge in agri- 
culture will be most productive, when they are planted in the 
minds of this class of scholars. 

I have only to add under this head, that the common amuse- 
ments of children have no connection with their future occupa- 
tions. Many of them injure their clothes, some of them waste their 
strength, and impair their health, and all of them prove more or 
less, the means of producing noise, or of exciting angry passions, 
both of which are calculated to beget vulgar manners. The 
Methodists have wisely banished every species of play from their 
college. Even the healthy and pleasurable exercise of swimming, 
is not permitted to their scholars, except in the presence of one 
of their masters. 

Do not think me too strict if I here exclude gunning from 



io8 SELECTED WRITINQS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

the amusements of young men. My objections to it are as fol- 
lows; 

1. It hardens the heart, by inflicting unnecessary pain and 
death upon animals. 

2. It is unnecessary in civilized society, where animal food 
may be obtained from domestic animals, with greater facility. 

3. It consumes a great deal of time, and thus creates habits 
of idleness. 

4. It frequently leads young men into low, and bad company. 

5. By imposing long abstinence from food, it leads to intem- 
perance in eating, which naturally leads to intemperance in 
drinking. 

6. It exposes to fevers, and accidents. The newspapers are 
occasionally filled with melancholy accounts of, the latter, and 
every physician must have met with frequent and dangerous in- 
stances of the former, in the course of his practice. 

I know the early use of a gun is recommended in our coun- 
try, to teach our young men the use of firearms, and thereby to 
prepare them for war and battle. But why should we inspire our 
youth, by such exercises, with hostile ideas towards their fellow 
creatures? Let us rather instill into their minds sentiments of 
universal benevolence to men of all nations and colours. Wars 
originate in error and vice. Let us eradicate these, by proper 
modes of education, and wars will cease to be necessary in our 
country. The divine author and lover of peace "will then suffer 
no man to do us wrong; yea, he will reprove kings for our sake, 
saying, touch not my anointed and do my people no harm." 
Should the nations with whom war is a trade, approach our 
coasts, they will retire from us, as Satan did from our Saviour, 
when he came to assault him; and for the same reason, because 
they will "find nothing in us" congenial to their malignant dis- 
positions; for the flames of war can be spread from one nation 
to another, only by the conducting mediums of vice and 
error. 

I have hinted at the injury which is done to the health of 
young people by some of their amusements; but there is a practice 



ON EDUCATION 109 

common in all our schools, which does more harm to their bodies 
than all the amusements that can be named, and that is, obliging 
them to sit too long in one place, or crowding too many of them 
together in one room. By means of the former, the growth and 
shape of the body have been impaired; and by means of the latter, 
the seeds of fevers have often been engendered in schools. In 
the course of my business, I have been called to many hundred 
children who have been seized with indispositions in school, 
which evidently arose from the action of morbid effluvia, pro- 
duced by the confined breath and perspiration of too great a 
number of children in one room. To obviate these evils, children 
should be permitted, after they have said their lessons, to amuse 
themselves in the open air, in some of the useful and agreeable 
exercises which have been mentioned. Their minds will be 
strengthened, as well as their bodies relieved by them. To oblige 
a sprightly boy to sit seven hours in a day, with his little arms 
pinioned to his sides, and his neck unnaturally bent towards his 
book; and for no crime! what cruelty and folly are manifested, 
by such an absurd mode of instructing or governing young 
people! 

I come next to say a few words upon the subject of PUN- 
ISHMENTS which are proper in schools. 

In barbarous ages every thing partook of the complexion 
of the times. Civil, ecclesiastical, military, and domestic punish- 
ments were all of a cruel nature. With the progress of reason and 
Christianity, punishments of all kinds have become less severe. 
Solitude and labor are now substituted in many countries, with 
success, in the room of the whipping-post and the gallows. The 
innocent infirmities of human nature are no longer proscribed, 
and punished by the church. Discipline, consisting in the vigi- 
lance of officers, has lessened the supposed necessity of military 
executions; and husbands fathers and masters now blush at 
the history of the times, when wives, children, and servants, were 
governed only by force. But unfortunately this spirit of human- 
ity and civilization has not reached our schools. The rod is yet 
the principal instrument of governing them, and a school-master 



i io SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

remains the only despot now known in free countries. Perhaps 
it is because the little subjects of their arbitrary and capricious 
power have not been in a condition to complain. I shall en- 
deavour therefore to plead their cause, and to prove that cor- 
poral punishments (except to children under four or five years 
of age) are never necessary, and always hurtful, in schools. 
The following arguments I hope will be sufficient to establish 
this proposition. 

1 . Children are seldom sent to school before they are capable 
of feeling the force of rational or moral obligation. They may 
therefore be deterred from committing offences, by motives less 
disgraceful than the fear of corporal punishments. 

2. By correcting children for ignorance and negligence in 
school, their ideas of improper and Immoral actions are con- 
founded, and hence the moral faculty becomes weakened in after 
life. It would not be more cruel or absurd to inflict the punish- 
ment of the whipping-post upon a man, for not dressing fashion- 
ably or neatly, than it is to ferule a boy for blotting his copy 
book, or mis-spelling a word. 

3. If the natural affection of a parent is sometimes insufficient, 
to restrain the violent effects of a sudden gust of anger upon a 
child, how dangerous must the power of correcting children be 
when lodged in the hands of a school-master, in whose anger 
there is no mixture of parental affection! Perhaps those parents 
act most wisely, who never trust themselves to inflict corporal 
punishments upon their children, after they are four or five years 
old, but endeavour to punish, and reclaim them, by confinement, 
or by abridging them of some of their usual gratifications, in 
dress, food or amusements. 

4. Injuries are sometimes done to the bodies, and sometimes 
to the intellects of children, by corporal punishments. I recollect, 
when a boy, to have lost a school-mate, who was said to have 
died in consequence of a severe whipping he received in school. 
At that time I did not believe it possible, but from what I now 
know of the disproportion between the violent emotions of the 
mind, and the strength of the body in children, I am disposed 



ON EDUCATION in 

to believe, that not only sickness, but that even death may be 
induced, by the convulsions of a youthful mind, worked up to 
a high sense of shame and resentment. 

The effects of thumping the head, boxing the ears, and 
pulling the hair, in impairing the intellects, by means of injuries 
done to the brain, are too obvious to be mentioned. 

5. Where there is shame, says Dr. Johnson, there may be 
virtue. But corporal punishments, inflicted at school, have a 
tendency to destroy the sense of shame, and thereby to destroy 
all moral sensibility. The boy that has been often publicly 
whipped at school, is under great obligations to his maker, and 
his parents, if he afterwards escape the whipping-post or the 
gallows. 

6. Corporal punishments, inflicted at school, tend to beget a 
spirit of violence in boys towards each other, which often fol- 
lows them through life; but they more certainly beget a spirit 
of hatred, or revenge, towards their masters, which too often 
becomes a ferment of the same baneful passions towards other 
people. The celebrated Dr. afterwards Baron Mailer declared, 
that he never saw, without horror, during the remaining part 
of his life, a school-master, who had treated him with unmerited 
severity, when he was only ten years old. A similar anecdote is 
related of the famous M. de Condamine. I think I have known 
several instances of this vindictive, or indignant spirit, to con- 
tinue towards a cruel and tyrannical school-master, in persons 
who were advanced in life, and who were otherwise of gentle 
and forgiving dispositions. 

7. Corporal punishments, inflicted at schools, beget a hatred 
to instruction in young people. I have sometimes suspected that 
the Devil, who knows how great an enemy knowledge is to his 
kingdom, has had the address to make the world believe that 
feruling, pulling and boxing ears, cudgelling, horsing, &c. and, 
in boarding-schools, a little starving, are all absolutely necessary 
for the government of young people, on purpose that he might 
make both schools, and school-masters odious, and thereby keep 
our world in ignorance; for ignorance is the best means the 



ii2 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

Devil ever contrived, to keep up the number of his subjects in 
our world. 

8. Corporal punishments are not only hurtful, but altogether 
unnecessary, in schools. Some of the most celebrated and suc- 
cessful school-masters, that I have known, never made use of 
them. 

9. The fear of corporal punishments, by debilitating the 
body, produces a corresponding debility in the mind, which 
contracts its capacity of acquiring knowledge. This capacity is 
enlarged by the tone which the mind acquires from the action 
of hope, love, and confidence upon it; and all these passions 
might easily be cherished, by a prudent and enlightened school- 
master. 

10. As there should always be a certain ratio between the 
strength of a remedy, and the excitability of the body in dis- 
eases, so there should be a similar ratio between the force em- 
ployed in the government of a school, and the capacities and 
tempers of children. A kind rebuke, like fresh air in a fainting 
fit, is calculated to act upon a young mind with more effect, 
than stimulants of the greatest power; but corporal punishments 
level all capacities and tempers, as quack-medicines do, all con- 
stitutions and diseases. They dishonour and degrade our species; 
for they suppose a total absence of all moral and intellectual 
feeling from the mind. Have we not often seen dull children 
suddenly improve, by changing their schools? The reason is 
obvious. The successful teacher only accommodated his manner 
and discipline to the capacities of his scholars. 

1 1. I conceive corporal punishments, inflicted in an arbitrary 
manner, to be contrary to the spirit of liberty, and that they 
should not be tolerated in a free government. Why should not 
children be protected from violence and injuries, as well as white 
and black servants? Had I influence enough in our legislature 
to obtain only a single law, it should be to make the punishment 
for striking a school boy, the same as for assaulting and beating 
an adult member of society. 

To all these arguments I know some well disposed people 



ON EDUCATION 113 

will reply, that the rod has received a divine commission from 
the sacred scriptures, as the instrument of correcting children. 
To this I answer that the ro d, in the Old Testament, by a very 
common figure in rhetoric, stands for punishments of any kind, 
just as the sword, in the New Testament, stands for the faithful 
.and general administration of justice, in such a way as is most 
calculated to reform criminals, and to prevent crimes. 

The following method of governing a school, I apprehend, 
would be attended with much better effects, than that which I 
have endeavoured to show to be contrary to reason, humanity, 
religion, liberty, and the experience of the wisest and best 
teachers in the world. 

Let a school-master endeavour, in the first place, to acquire 
the confidence of his scholars, by a prudent deportment. Let him 
learn to command his passions and temper, at all times, in his 
school, Let him treat the name of the Supreme Being with 
reverence, as often as it occurs in books, or in conversation with 
his scholars. Let him exact a respectful behaviour towards him- 
self, in his school; but in the intervals of school hours, let him 
treat his scholars with gentleness and familiarity. If he should 
even join in their amusements, he would not lose, by his con- 
descension, any part of his authority over them. But to secure 
their affection and respect more perfectly, let him, once or twice 
a year, lay out a small sum of money in pen-knives, and books, 
and distribute them among his scholars, as rewards for pro- 
ficiency in learning, and for good behaviour. If these prudent 
and popular measures should fail of preventing offences at 
school, then let the following modes of punishment be adopted. 

1. Private admonition. By this mode of rebuking, we imitate 
the conduct of the divine Being towards his offending creatures, 
for his first punishment is always inflicted privately, by means 
of the still voice of conscience. 

2. Confinement after school-hours are ended; but with the 
knowledge of the parents of the children. 

3. Holding a small sign of disgrace, of any kind, in the 
middle of the floor, in the presence of a whole school. 



1 1 4 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

If these punishments fail of reclaiming a bad boy, he should 
be dismissed from school, to prevent his corrupting his school- 
mates. It is the business of parents, and not of school-masters, 
to use the last means for eradicating idleness and vice from their 
children. 

The world was created in love. It is sustained by love. Na- 
tions and families that are happy, are made so only by love. Lei 
us extend this divine principle, to those little communities whicn 
we call schools. Children are capable of loving in a high degree. 
They may therefore be governed by love. 

The occupation of a school-master is truly dignified. He is, 
next to mothers, the most important member of civil society. 
Why then is there so little rank connected with that occupation? 
Why do we treat it with so much neglect or Contempt? It is 
because the voice of reason, in the human heart, associates with 
it the idea of despotism and violence. Let school-masters cease 
to be tyrants, and they will soon enjoy the respect and rank, 
which are naturally connected with their profession. 

We are grossly mistaken in looking up wholly to our gov- 
ernments, and even to ministers of the gospel, to promote public 
and private order in society. Mothers and school-masters plant 
the seeds of nearly all the good and evil which exist in our world. 
Its reformation must therefore be begun in nurseries and in 
schools. If the habits we acquire there, were to have no influence 
upon our future happiness, yet the influence they have upon our 
governments, is a sufficient reason why we ought to introduce 
new modes, as well as new objects of education into our country. 

You have lately been employed in an attempt to perpetuate 
our existence as a free people, by establishing the means of 
national credit and defense; * but these are feeble bulwarks 
against slavery, compared with habits of labor and virtue, dis- 
seminated among our young people. Let us establish schools for 
this purpose, in every township in the United States, and con- 

* Mr. Clymer was one of the Representatives of Pennsylvania, in the 
first Congress of the United States which met in New York, in the year 
1789. 



ON EDUCATION 115 

form them to reason, humanity, and the present state of society 
in America. Then, Sir, will the generations who are to follow 
us, realize the precious ideas of the dignity and excellence of 
republican forms of government, which I well recollect you 
cherished with so much ardor, in the beginning of the American 
Revolution, and which you have manifested ever since, both 
by your public and private conduct. 

We suffer so much from traditional error of various kinds, 
in education, morals, and government, that I have been led to 
wish, that it were possible for us to have schools established, 
in the United States, for teaching the art of forgetting. I think 
three-fourths of all our school-masters, divines, and legislators 
would profit very much, by spending two or three years in such 
useful institutions. 

An apology may seem necessary, not only for the length of 
this letter, but for some of the opinions contained in it. I know 
how apt mankind are to brand every proposition for innovation, 
as visionary and Utopian. But good men should not be dis- 
couraged, by such epithets, from their attempts to combat vice 
and error. There never was an improvement, in any art or sci- 
ence, nor even a proposal for meliorating the condition of man, 
in any age or country, that has not been considered in the light 
of what has been called, since Sir Thomas More's time, an 
Utopian scheme. The application of the magnet to navigation, 
and of steam to mechanical purposes, have both been branded 
as Utopian projects. The great idea in the mind of Columbus, 
of exploring a new world, was long viewed, in most of the 
courts of Europe, as the dream of a visionary sailor. But why 
do we go to ancient times, for proofs of important innovations 
in human affairs having been treated as Utopian schemes. You 
and I recollect the time, when the abolition of Negro slavery 
in our state, as also when the independence of the United States, 
and the present wise and happy confederacy of our republics, 
were all considered by many of our sober prudent men, as sub- 
jects of an Utopian nature. 

If those benefactors of mankind, who have levelled moun- 



ii6 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

tains in the great road of human life, by the discoveries or 
labors which have been mentioned, have been stigmatized with 
obloquy, as visionary projectors, why should an individual be 
afraid of similar treatment, who has only attempted to give to 
that road, from its beginning, a straight direction. 

If but a dozen men like yourself, approve of my opinions, 
it will overbalance the most illiberal opposition they may meet 
with, from all the learned vulgar of the United States. 

For the benefit of those persons who consider opinions as 
improved, like certain liquids, by time; and who are opposed to 
innovations, only because they did not occur to their ancestors, 
I shall conclude my letter with an anecdote of a minister in 
London, who, after employing a long sermon, in controverting 
what he supposed to be an heretical opinion, concluded it with 
the following words, "I tell you, I tell you my brethren, I tell 
you again, that an old error is better than a new truth." 



THE BIBLE AS A SCHOOL BOOK 

Addressed to the Rev. ]ere?ny Bel knap, of Boston 



DEAR SIR, 

It is now several months, since I promised to give you my 
reasons for preferring the Bible as a school book, to all other 
compositions. I shall not trouble you with an apology for my 
delaying so long to comply with my promise, but shall proceed 
immediately to the subject of my letter. 

Before I state my arguments in favour of teaching children 
to read by means of the Bible, I shall assume the five following 
propositions. 

I. That Christianity is the only true and perfect religion, and 
that in proportion as mankind adopt its principles, and obey its 
precepts, they will be wise, and happy. 

II. That a better knowledge of this religion is to be acquired 
by reading the bible, than in any other way. 

III. That the bible contains more knowledge necessary to 
man in his present state, than any other book in the world. 

IV. That knowledge is most durable, and religious instruc- 
tion most useful, when imparted in early life, 

V. That the Bible, wheg not read in schools, is seldom read 
in any subsequent period of life. 

My arguments in favor of the use of the Bible as a school 
book are founded, I. In the constitution of the human mind. 

i . The memory is the first faculty which opens in the minds 
of children. Of how much consequence, then, must it be, to 



u8 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

impress it with the great truths of Christianity, before it is pre- 
occupied with less interesting subjects! As all the liquors, which 
are poured into a cup, generally taste of that which first filled it, 
so all the knowledge, which is added to that which is treasured 
up in the memory from the Bible, generally receives an agreeable 
and useful tincture from it. 

2. There is a peculiar aptitude in the minds of children for 
religious knowledge. I have constantly found them in the first 
six or seven years of their lives, more inquisitive upon religious 
subjects, than upon any others: and an ingenious instructor of 
youth has informed me, that he has found young children more 
capable of receiving just ideas upon the most difficult tenets of 
religion, than upon the most simple branches of human knowl- 
edge. It would be strange if it were otherwise; for God creates all 
his means to suit all his ends. There must of course be a fitness 
between the human mind, and the truths which are essential to 
its happiness. 

3. The influence of prejudice is derived from the impressions, 
which are made upon the mind in early life; prejudices are of 
two kinds, true and false. In a world where false prejudices do 
so much mischief, it would discover great weakness not to oppose 
them, by such as are true. 

I grant that many men have rejected the prejudices derived 
from the Bible: but I believe no man ever did so, without having 
been made wiser or better, by the early operation of these preju- 
dices upon his mind. Every just principle that is to be found in 
the writings of Voltaire, is borrowed from the Bible: and the 
morality of the Deists, which has been so much admired and 
praised, is, I believe, in most cases, the effect of habits, produced 
by early instruction in the principles of Christianity. 

4. We are subject, by a general^aw in our natures, to what 
is called habit. Now if the study of the scriptures be necessary to 
our happiness at any time of our lives, the sooner we begin to 
read them, the more we shall be attached to them; for it is peculiar 
to all the acts of habit, to become easy, strong and agreeable by 
repetition. 



ON EDUCATION 119 

5. It is a law in our natures, that we remember longest the 
knowledge we acquire by the greatest number of our senses. 
Now a knowledge of the contents of the Bible, is acquired in 
school by the aid of the eyes and the ears-, for children after 
getting their lessons, always say them to their masters in an 
audible voice; of course there is a presumption, that this knowl- 
edge will be retained much longer than if it had been acquired 
in any other way. 

6. The interesting events and characters, recorded and de- 
scribed in the Old and New Testaments, are accommodated 
above all others to seize upon all the faculties of the minds of 
children. The understanding, the memory, the imagination, the 
passions, and the moral powers, are all occasionally addressed 
by the various incidents which are contained in those divine 
books, insomuch that not to be delighted with them, is to be 
devoid of every principle of pleasure that exists in a sound 
mind. 

7. There is a native love of truth in the human mind. Lord 
Shaftesbury says, that "truth is so congenial to our minds, that 
we love even the shadow of it: " and Horace, in his rules for com- 
posing an epic poem, establishes the same law in our natures, by 
advising the "fictions in poetry to resemble truth." Now the 
Bible contains more truths than any other book in the world: 
so true is the testimony that it bears of God in his works of crea- 
tion, providence, and redemption, that it is called truth itself, by 
way of pre-eminence above things that are only simply true. 
How forcibly are we struck with the evidences of truth, in the 
history of the Jews, above what we discover in the history of 
other nations? Where do we find a hero, or an historian record 
his own faults or vices except in the Old Testament? Indeed, 
my friend, from some accouhts which I have read of the Ameri- 
can Revolution, I begin to grow sceptical to all history except to 
that which is contained in the Bible. Now if this book be known 
to contain nothing but what is materially true, the mind will 
naturally acquire a love for it from this circumstance: and from 
this affection for the truths of the Bible, it will acquire a dis- 



no SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

cernment of truth in other books, and a preference of it in all the 
transactions of life. 

VIII. There is a wonderful property in the memory, which 
enables it in old age, to recover the knowledge it had acquired 
in early life, after it had been apparently forgotten for forty or 
fifty years. Of how much consequence, then, must it be, to fill 
the mind with that species of knowledge, in childhood and youth, 
which, when recalled in the decline of life, will support the soul 
under the infirmities of age, and smooth the avenues of approach- 
ing death? The Bible is the only book which is capable of afford- 
ing this support to old age; and it is for this reason that we find 
it resorted to with so much diligence and pleasure by such old 
people as have read it in early life. I can recollect many in- 
stances of this kind in persons who discovered no attachment 
to the Bible, in the meridian of their lives, who have notwith- 
standing, spent the evening of them, in reading no other book. 
The late Sir John Pringle, Physician to the Queen of Great 
Britain, after passing a long life in camps and at court, closed it 
by studying the scriptures. So anxious was he to increase his 
knowledge in them, that he wrote to Dr. Michaclis, a learned 
professor of divinity in Germany, for an explanation of a diffi- 
cult text of scripture, a short time before his death. 

IX. My second argument in favour of the use of the Bible 
in schools, is founded upon an implied command of God, and 
upon the practice of several of the wisest nations of the world. 
In the 6th chapter of Deuteronomy, we find the following 
words, which are directly to my purpose, "And thou shalt love 
the Lord thy God, with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and 
with all thy might. And these words which I command thee this 
day shall be in thine heart. And thou shalt teach them dilige-ntly 
imto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in 
thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou 
liest down, and when thou risest up." 

It appears, moreover, from the history of the Jews, that they 
flourished as a nation, in proportion as they honored and read 



ON EDUCATION 121 

the books of Moses, which contained, a written revelation of 
the will of God, to the children of men. The law was not only 
neglected, but lost during the general profligacy of manners 
which accompanied the long and wicked reign of Manassah. But 
the discovery of it, in the rubbish of the temple, by Josiah, and 
its subsequent general use, were followed by a return of national 
virtue and prosperity. We read further, of the wonderful effects 
which the reading of the law by Iv/ra, after his return from his 
captivity in Babylon, had upon the Jews. They hung upon his 
lips with tears, and showed the sincerity of their repentance, by 
their general reformation. 

The learning of the Jews, for many years consisted in noth- 
ing but a knowledge of the scriptures. These were the text books 
of all the instruction that was given in the schools of their 
prophets. It was by means of this general knowledge of their 
law, that those Jews that wandered from Judea into our coun- 
tries, carried with them and propagated certain ideas of the true 
God among all the civilized nations upon the face of the earth. 
And it was from the attachment they retained to the old Testa- 
ment, that they procured a translation of it into the Greek lan- 
guage, after they lost the Hebrew tongue, by their long absence 
from their native country. The utility of this translation, com- 
monly called the Scptuagint, in facilitating the progress of the 
gospel, is well known to all who are acquainted with the history 
of the first age of the Christian church. 

But the benefits of an early and general acquaintance with the 
Bible, were not confined only to the Jewish nations. They have 
appeared in many countries in Europe, since the reformation. 
The industry, and habits of order, which distinguish many of the 
German nations, are derived from their early instruction in the 
principles of Christianity, by means of the Bible. The moral and 
enlightened character of the inhabitants of Scotland, and of the 
New England states, appears to be derived from the same cause. 
If we descend from nations to sects, we shall find them wise and 
prosperous in proportion as they become early acquainted with 
the scriptures. The bible is still used as a school book among the 



122 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

Quakers. The morality of this sect of Christians is universally 
acknowledged. Nor is this all, their prudence in the manage- 
ment of their private affairs, is as much a mark of their society, 
as their sober manners. 

I wish to be excused for repeating here, that if the Bible did 
not convey a single direction for the attainment of future happi- 
ness, it should be read in our schools in preference to all other 
books, from, its containing the greatest portion of that kind of 
knowledge which is calculated to produce private and public 
temporal happiness. 

We err not only in human affairs, but in religion likewise, 
only because "we do not know the scriptures." The opposite 
systems of the numerous sects of Christians arise chiefly from 
their being more instructed in catechism, creeds,, and confessions 
of faith, than in the scriptures. Immense truths, I believe, are 
concealed in them. The time, I have no doubt, will come, when 
posterity will view and pity our ignorance of these truths, 
as much as we do the ignorance of the disciples of our Saviour, 
who knew nothing of the meaning of those plain passages in 
the Old Testament which were daily fulfilling before their 
eyes. Whenever that time shall arrive, those truths which have 
escaped our notice, or, if discovered, have been thought to 
be opposed to each other, or to be inconsistent with them- 
selves, will then like the stones of Solomon's temple, be found 
so exactly to accord with each other, that they shall be cemented 
without noise or force, into one simple and sublime system of 
religion. 

But further, we err, not only in religion but in philosophy 
likewise, because we "do not know or believe the scriptures." 
The sciences have been compared to a circle of which religion 
composes a part. To understand any one of them perfectly it is 
necessary to have some knowledge of them all. Bacon, Boyle, and 
Newton included the scriptures in the inquiries to which their 
universal geniuses disposed them, and their philosophy was aided 
by their knowledge in them. A striking agreement has been 
lately discovered between the history of certain events recorded 



ON EDUCATION 123 

in the Bible and some of the operations and productions of 
nature, particularly those which are related in Whitehurst's ob- 
servations on the deluge in Smith's account of the origin of the 
variety of color in the human species, and in Bruce's travels. 
It remains yet to be shown how many other events, related in 
the Bible, accord with some late important discoveries in the 
principles of medicine. The events, and the principles alluded 
to, mutually establish the truth of each other. From the dis- 
coveries of the Christian philosophers, whose names have been 
last mentioned, I have been led to question whether most harm 
has been done to revelation, by those divines who have unduly 
multiplied the objects of faith, or by those deists who have unduly 
multiplied the objects of reason, in explaining the scriptures. 

I shall now proceed to answer some of the objections which 
have been made to the use of the Bible as a school book. 

I. We are told, that the familiar use of the Bible in our 
schools, has a tendency to lessen a due reverence for it. This 
objection, by proving too much, proves nothing at all. If famili- 
arity lessens respect for divine things, then all those precepts of 
our religion, which enjoin the daily or weekly worship of the 
Deity, are improper. The bible was not intended to represent 
a Jewish ark; and it is an antichristian idea, to suppose that it 
can be profaned, by being carried into a school house, or by 
being handled by children. But where will the Bible be read by 
young. people with more reverence than in a school? Not in most 
private families; for I believe there are few parents, who pro- 
serve so much order in their houses, as is kept up in our common 
English schools. 

II. We are told, that there are many passages in the Old 
Testament, that are improper to be read by children, and that 
the greatest part of it is no way interesting to mankind under 
the present dispensation of the gospel. There are I grant, several 
chapters, and many verses in the Old Testament, which in their 
present unfortunate translation, should be passed over by chil- 
dren. But I deny that any of the books of the Old Testament 
are not interesting to mankind, under the gospel dispensation. 



i2 4 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

Most of the characters, events, and ceremonies, mentioned in 
them, are personal, providential, or instituted types of the Mes- 
siah: All of which have been, or remain yet to be, fulfilled by 
him. It is from an ignorance or neglect of these types, that we 
have so many deists in Christendom; for so irrefragably do they 
prove the truth of Christianity, that I am sure a young man who 
had been regularly instructed in their meaning, could never 
doubt afterwards of the truth of any of its principles. If any 
obscurity appears in these principles, it is only (to use the words 
of the poet) because they are dark, with excessive bright. 

I know there is an objection among many people to teach 
children doctrines of any kind, because they are liable to be 
controverted. But where will this objection lead us? The being 
of a God, and the obligations of morality, havq both been con- 
troverted; and yet who has objected to our teaching these doc- 
trines to our children? 

The curiosity and capacities of young people for the mys- 
teries of religion, awaken much sooner than is generally sup- 
posed. Of this we have two remarkable proofs in the Old Tes- 
tament. The first is mentioned in the twelfth chapter of Exodus. 
u And it shall come when your children shall say unto you, 
"Wtytt mean you by this service?" that ye shall say, "It is the 
sacrifice of the Lord's passover, who passed over the houses of 
the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, 
and delivered our houses. And the children of Israel went away, 
and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron." A sec- 
ond proof of the desire of children to be instructed in the mys- 
teries of religion, is to be found in the sixth chapter of Deuteron- 
omy. "And when thy son asketh thee in the time to come saying, 
"What mean the testimonies and the statutes and the judg- 
ments which the Lord our God hath commanded you?" Then 
thou shalt say unto thy son, "We were Pharaoh's bondmen in 
Egypt, and the Lord our God brought us out of Egypt with a 
mighty hand." These enquiries from the mouths of children are 
perfectly natural; for where is the parent who has not had similar 
questions proposed to him by his children upon their being first 



ON EDUCATION 125 

conducted to a place of worship, or upon their beholding, for the 
first time, either of the sacraments of our religion? 

Let us not be wiser than our Maker. If moral precepts alone 
could have reformed mankind, the mission of the Son of God 
into our world, would have been unnecessary. He came to 
promulgate a system of doctrines, as well as a system of morals. 
The perfect morality of the gospel rests upon a doctrine, which 
though often controverted, has never been refuted, I mean the 
vicarious life and death of the Son of God. This sublime and 
ineffable doctrine delivers us from the absurd hypotheses of 
modern philosophers, concerning the foundation of moral obli- 
gation, and fixes it upon the eternal and self moving principle of 
LOVE. It concentrates a whole system of ethics in a single text 
of scripture. "A new coiwnandment I give unto you, that ye love 
one another, even as I have loved you" By withholding the 
knowledge of this doctrine from children, we deprive ourselves 
of the best means of awakening moral sensibility in their minds. 
We do more, we furnish an argument, for withholding from 
them a knowledge of the morality of the gospel likewise; for this, 
in many instances, is as supernatural, and therefore as liable to be 
controverted, as any of the doctrines or miracles which are men- 
tioned in the New Testament. The miraculous conception of the 
saviour of the world by a virgin, is not more opposed to the 
ordinary course of natural events, nor is the doctrine of the 
atonement more above human reason, than those moral precepts, 
which command us to love our enemies, or to die for our friends. 

III. It has been said, that the division of the Bible into chap- 
ters and verses, renders it more difficult to be read, by children 
than many other books. 

By a little care in a master, this difficulty may be obviated, 
and even an advantage derived from it. It may serve to transfer 
the attention of the scholar to the sense of a subject; and no 
person will ever read well, who is guided by any thing else, in 
his stops, emphasis, or accents. The division of the Bible into 
chapters and verses, is not a greater obstacle to its being read 
with ease, than the bad punctuation of most other books. I 



126 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

deliver this stricture upon other books, from the authority of 
Mr. Rice, the celebrated author of the art of speaking, whom I 
heard declare in a large company in London, that he had never 
seen a book properly pointed in the English Language. He ex- 
emplified, notwithstanding, by reading to the same company a 
passage from Milton, his perfect knowledge of the art of reading. 

Some people, I know, have proposed to introduce extracts 
from the Bible, into our schools, instead of the Bible itself. Many 
excellent works of this kind, are in print, but if we admit any 
one of them, we shall have the same inundation of them that we 
have had of grammars, spelling books, and lessons for children, 
many of which are published for the benefit of the authors only, 
and all of them have tended greatly to increase the expence of 
education. Besides, these extracts or abridgements of the Bible, 
often contain the tenets of particular sects or persons, and there- 
fore, may be improper for schools composed of the children 
of different sects of Christians. The Bible is a cheap book, and 
is to be had in every bookstore. It is, moreover, esteemed and 
preferred by all sects; because each finds its peculiar doctrines 
in it. It should therefore be used in preference to any abridge- 
ments of it, or histories extracted from it. 

I have heard it proposed that a portion of the Bible should 
be read every day by the master, as a means of instructing chil- 
dren in it: But this is a poor substitute for obliging children to 
read it as a school book; for by this means we insensibly engrave, 
as it were, its contents upon their minds: and it has been remarked 
that children, instructed in this way in the scriptures, seldom 
forget any part of them. They have the same advantage over 
those persons, who have only heard the scriptures read by a 
master, that a man who has worked with the tools of a mechani- 
cal employment for several years, has over the man who has only 
stood a few hours in a work shop and seen the same business 
carried on by other people. 

In this defence of the use of the Bible as a school book, I 
beg you would not think that I suppose the Bible to contain the 
only revelation which God has made to man. I believe in an 



ON EDUCATION 127 

internal revelation, or a moral principle, which God has im- 
planted in the heart of every man, as the precursor of his final 
dominion over the whole human race. How much this internal 
revelation accords with the external, remains yet to be explored 
by philosophers. I am disposed to believe, that most of the doc- 
trines of Christianity revealed in the Bible might be discovered 
by a close examination of all the principles of action in man: But 
who is equal to such an enquiry? It certainly does not suit the 
natural indolence, or laborious employments of a great majority 
of mankind. The internal revelation of the gospel may be com- 
pared to the straight line which is made through a wilderness 
by the assistance of a compass, to a distant country, which few 
are able to discover, while the Bible resembles a public road 
to the same country, which is wide, plain, and easily found. 
"And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way 
of holiness. The way faring men, though fools, shall not err 
therein." 

Neither let me in this place exclude the Revelation which God 
has made of himself to man in the works of creation. I am far 
from wishing to lessen the influence of this species of Revelation 
upon mankind. But the knowledge of God obtained from this 
source, is obscure and feeble in its operation, compared with that 
which is derived from the Bible. The visible creation speaks of 
the Deity in hieroglyphics, while the Bible describes all his 
attributes and perfections in such plain, and familiar language 
that "he who runs may read." 

How kindly has our maker dealt with his creatures, in pro- 
viding three different cords to draw them to himself! But how 
weakly do some men act, who suspend their faith, and hopes 
upon only one of them! By laying hold of them all, they would 
approach more speedily and certainly to the centre of all hap- 
piness. 

To the arguments I have mentioned in favour of the use 
of the Bible as a school book, I shall add a few reflections. 

The present fashionable practice of rejecting the Bible from 
our schools, I suspect has originated with the deists. They dis- 



128 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

cover great ingenuity in this new mode of attacking Christianity. 
If they proceed in it, they will do more in half a century, in 
extirpating our religion, than Bolingbroke or Voltaire could 
have effected in a thousand years. I am not writing to this class 
of people. I despair of changing the opinions of any of them. 
I wish only to alter the opinions and conduct of those lukewarm, 
or superstitious Christians, who have been misled by the deists 
upon this subject. On the ground of the good old custom, of 
using the Bible as a school book, it becomes us to entrench our 
religion. It is the last bulwark the deists have left it; for they have 
rendered instruction in the principles of Christianity by the pul- 
pit and the press, so unfashionable, that little good for many years 
seems to have been done by either of them. 

The effects of the disuse of the Bible, as a school book have 
appeared of late in the neglect and even contempt with which 
scripture names are treated by many people. It is because par- 
ents have not been early taught to know or respect the characters 
and exploits of the Old and New Testament worthies, that their 
names are exchanged for those of the modern kings of Europe, 
or of the principal characters in novels and romances. I conceive 
there may be some advantage in bearing scripture names. It may 
lead the persons who bear them, to study that part of the scrip- 
tures, in which their names are mentioned, with uncommon atten- 
tion, and perhaps it may excite a desire in them to possess the 
talents of virtues of their ancient namesakes. This remark first 
occurred to me, upon hearing a pious woman whose name was 
Mary, say, that the first passages of the Bible, which made a 
serious impression on her mind, were those interesting chapters 
and verses in which the name of Mary is mentioned in the New 
Testament. 

It is a singular fact, that while the names of the kings and 
emperors of Rome, are now given chiefly to horses and dogs, 
scripture names have hitherto been confined only to the human 
species. Let the enemies and contemners of those names take 
care, lest the names of more modern kings be given hereafter 
only to the same animals, and lest the names of the modern 



ON EDUCATION 129 

heroines of romances be given to animals of an inferior 
species. 

It is with great pleasure, that I have observed the Bible to 
be the only book read in the Sunday schools in England. We 
have adopted the same practice in the Sunday schools, lately 
established in this city. This will give our religion (humanly 
speaking) the chance of a longer life in our country. We hear 
much of the persons educated in free schools in England, turn- 
ing out well in the various walks of life. I have enquired into 
the cause of it, and have satisfied myself, that it is wholly to be 
ascribed to the general use of the Bible in those schools, for it 
seems the children of poor people are of too little consequence 
to be guarded from the supposed evils of reading the scriptures 
in early life, or in an unconsecrated school house. 

However great the benefits of reading the scriptures in 
schools have been, I cannot help remarking, that these benefits 
might be much greater, did schoolmasters take more pains to 
explain them to their scholars. Did they demonstrate the divine 
original of the Bible from the purity, consistency, and benevo- 
lence of its doctrines and precepts did they explain the mean- 
ing of the levitical institutions, and show their application to the 
numerous and successive gospel dispensations did they inform 
their pupils that the gross and abominable vices of the Jews were 
recorded only as proofs of the depravity of human nature, and 
of the insufficiency of the law, to produce moral virtue and 
thereby to establish the necessity and perfection of the gospel 
system and above all, did they often enforce the discourses 
of our Saviour, as the best rule of life, and the surest guide to 
happiness, how great would be the influence of our schools upon 
the order and prosperity of our country! Such a mode of in- 
structing children in the Christian religion, would convey knowl- 
edge into their understandings, and would therefore be prefer- 
able to teaching them creeds, and catechisms, which too often 
convey, not knowledge, but words only, into their memories. 
1 think I am not too sanguine in believing, that education, con- 
ducted in this manner, would, in the course of two generations, 



1 3 o SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

eradicate infidelity from among us, and render civil govern- 
ment scarcely necessary in our country. 

In contemplating the political institutions of the United 
States, I lament, that we waste so much time and money in 
punishing crimes, and take so little pains to prevent them. We 
profess to be republicans, and yet we neglect the only means 
of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of gov- 
erment, that is, the universal education of our youth in the prin- 
ciples of Christianity, by means of the Bible; for this divine 
book, above all others, favours that equality among mankind, 
that respect for just laws, and all those sober and frugal virtues, 
which constitute the soul of republicanism. 

I have now only to apologize for having addressed this letter 
to you, after having been assured by you, that your opinion, 
respecting the use of the Bible as a school book, coincided with 
mine. My excuse for what I have done is, that I knew you were 
qualified by your knowledge, and disposed by your zeal in the 
cause of truth, to correct all the errors you would discover in 
my letter. Perhaps a further apology may be necessary for my 
having presumed to write upon a subject so much above my 
ordinary studies. My excuse for it is, that I thought a single mite 
from a member of a profession, which has been frequently 
charged with scepticism in religion, might attract the notice of 
persons who had often overlooked the more ample contributions 
upon this subject, of gentlemen of other professions. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL 
SCIENCES 



LECTURES ON ANIMAL LIFE 



LECTURE I 

GENTLEMEN, 

My business in this chair is to teach the institutes of medicine. 
They have been divided into Physiology, Pathology, and Thera- 
peutics. The objects of the first are, the laws of the human body 
in its healthy state. The second includes the history of the causes, 
and seats of diseases. The subjects of the third, are the remedies 
for those diseases. In entering upon the first part of our course, 
I am met by a remark delivered by Dr. Hunter in his introduc- 
tory lectures to his course of anatomy. "In our branch (says the 
Doctor) those teachers who study to captivate young minds 
with ingenious speculations, will not leave a reputation behind 
them that will outlive them, half a century. When they cease 
from their labours, their labours will be buried along with them. 
There never was a man more followed, and admired in physiol- 
ogy, than Dr. Boerhaave. I remember the veneration in which 

he was held. And now, in the space of forty years, his 

physiology is it shocks me to think, in 

what a light it appears." * Painful as this premonition may be to 
the teachers of physiology, it should not deter them from specu- 
lating upon physiological subjects. Simple anatomy is a mass of 
dead matter. It is physiology which infuses life into it. A knowl- 
edge of the structure of the human body, occupies only the 
memory. Physiology introduces it to the higher, and more noble 
faculties of the mind. The component parts of the body, may be 

* Lect. xi. p. 98. 

133 



i 3 4 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

compared to the materials of a house, lying without order in a 
yard. It is physiology, like a skilful architect, which connects 
them together, so as to form from them an elegant, and useful 
building. The writers against physiology, resemble in one par- 
ticular, the writers against luxury. They forget that the functions 
they know, and describe, belong to the science of physiology; 
just as the declaimers against luxury, forget that all the con- 
veniences which they enjoy beyond what are possessed in the 
most simple stage of society, belong to the luxuries of life. The 
anatomist who describes the circulation of the blood, acts the 
part of a physiologist, as much as he does, who attempts to ex- 
plain the functions of the brain. In this respect Dr. Hunter did 
honor to our science; for few men ever explained that subject, 
and many others equally physiological, with more perspicuity 
and eloquence, than that illustrious anatomist. Upon all new and 
difficult subjects, there must be pioneers. It has been my lot to 
be called to this % office of hazard, and drudgery; and if in dis- 
charging its duties, I should meet the fate of my predecessors, 
in this branch of medicine, I shall not perish in vain. My errors, 
like the bodies of those who fall in forcing a breach, will serve 
to compose a bridge for those who shall come after me, in our 
present difficult enterprise. This consideration, aided by just 
views of the nature, and extent of moral obligation, will over- 
balance the evils anticipated by Dr. Hunter, from the loss of 
posthumous fame. Had a prophetic voice whispered in the ear 
of Dr. Boerhaave in the evening of his life, that in the short 
period of forty years, the memory of his physiological works 
would perish from the earth; I am satisfied, from the knowledge 
we have of his elevated genius and piety, he would have treated 
the prediction with the same indifference, that he would have 
done, had he been told, that in the same rime, his name should 
be erased from a pane of glass, in a noisy and vulgar country 
tavern. 

The subjects of the lectures I am about to deliver, you will 
find in a syllabus which I have prepared, and published, for the 
purpose of giving you a succinct view of the extent, and con- 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 135 

nection of our course. Some of these subjects will be new in 
lectures upon the institutes of medicine, particularly those which 
relate to morals, metaphysicks, and theology. However thorny 
these questions may appear, we must approach and handle them; 
for they are intimately connected with the history of the facul- 
ties, and operations of the human mind; and these form an 
essential part of the animal economy. Perhaps it is because physi- 
cians have hitherto been restrained from investigating, and de- 
ciding upon these subjects, by an erroneous belief that they be- 
long exclusively to another profession; that physiology has so 
long been an obscure, and conjectural science. 

In beholding the human body, the first thing that strikes us, 
is its LIFE. This, of course should be the first object of our in- 
quiries. It is a most important subject; for the end of all the 
studies of a physician is to preserve life; and this cannot be per- 
fectly done, until we know in what it consists. 

I include in animal life as applied to the human body, motion 
sensation and thought. These three, when united, compose 
perfect life. It may exist without thought, or sensation; but 
neither sensation, nor thought, can exist without motion. The 
lowest grade of life, probably exists in the absence of even 
motion, as I shall mention hereafter. I have preferred the term 
motion to those of oscillation, or vibration which have been em- 
ployed by Dr. Hartley in explaining the laws of animal matter; 
because I conceived it to be more simple, and better adapted to 
common apprehension. 

In treating upon this subject, I shall first consider animal life 
as it appears in the waking, and sleeping states in a healthy adult, 
and shall afteiwards inquire into the modification of its causes, 
in the foetal, infant, youthful, and middle states of life, in certain 
diseases, in different states of society, in different climates, and 
in different animals. 

I shall begin, by delivering three general propositions. 

I. Every part of the human body (the nails and hair ex- 
cepted) is endowed with sensibility, or excitability, or with both 
of them. By sensibility is meant the power of having sensation 



i 3 6 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

excited by the action of impressions. Excitability denotes that 
property in the human body, by which motion is excited by 
means of impressions. This property has been called by several 
other names, such as, irritability, contractility, mobility, and stim- 
ulability. I shall make use of the term excitability, for the most 
part, in preference to either of them. I mean by it, a capacity ot 
imperceptible, as well as obvious motion. It is of no consequence 
to our present inquiries, whether, this excitability be a quality 
of animal matter, or a substance. The latter opinion has been 
maintained by Dr. Girtanner, and has some probability in its 
favor. 

II. The whole human body is so formed, and connected, 
that impressions made in the healthy state upon one part, excite 
motion, or sensation, or both, in every other pftrt of tlie body. 
From this view, it appears to be an unit, or a simple and indivisible 
quality, or substance. Its capacity for receiving motion, and 
sensation, is variously modified by means of what are called, the 
senses. It is external, and internal. The impressions which act 
upon it, shall be enumerated in order. 

III. Life is the EFFECT of certain stimuli acting upon the 
sensibility, and excitability which are extended in different de- 
grees, over every external, and internal part of the body. These 
stimuli are as necessary to its existence, as air is to flame. Animal 
life is truly (to use the words of Dr. Brown) "a forced state." 
I have said, the words of Dr. Brown; for the opinion was deliv- 
ered by Dr. Cullen in the University of Edinburgh in the year 
1766, and was detailed by me in this school, many years before 
the name of Dr. Brown was known as a teacher of medicine. 
It is true, Dr. Cullen afterwards deserted it; but it is equally true, 
I never did; and the belief of it, has been the foundation of many 
of the principles, and modes of practice in medicine which I have 
since adopted. In a lecture which I delivered in the year 1771, 
I find the following words, which are taken from a manuscript 
copy of lectures given by Dr. Cullen upon the institutes of 
medicine. "The human body is not an automaton, or self-moving 
machine; but is kept alive, and in motion by the constant action 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 137 

of stimuli upon it." In thus ascribing the discovery of the cause 
of life which I shall endeavour to establish, to Dr. Cullen; let it 
not be supposed, I mean to detract from the genius, and merit 
of Dr. Brown. To his intrepidity in reviving, and propagating it, 
as well as for the many other truths contained in his system 
of medicine posterity, I have no doubt, will do him ample justice, 
after the errors that are blended with them, have been corrected, 
by their unsuccessful application to the cure of diseases. 

Agreeably to our last proposition, I proceed to remark, that 
the action of the brain, the diastole, and systole of the heart, the 
pulsation of the arteries, the contraction of the muscles, the 
peristaltic motion of the bowels, the absorbing power of the 
lymphatics, secretion, excretion, hearing, seeing, smelling, taste, 
and the sense of touch, nay more, thought itself, are all the 
effects of stimuli acting upon the organs of sense and motion. 
These stimuli have been divided into external, and internal. The 
external are light, sound, odors, air, heat, exercise, and the pleas- 
ures of the senses. The internal stimuli are food, drinks, chyle, 
the blood, a certain tension of the glands, which contain secreted 
liquors, and the exercises of the faculties of the mind; each of 
which I shall treat in the order, in which they have been men- 
tioned. 

Of external stimuli. The first of these is light. It is remark- 
able that the progenitor of the human race was not brought into 
existence until all the luminaries of heaven were created. The 
first impulse of life, was probably imparted to his body, by means 
of light. It acts chiefly through the medium of the organs of 
vision. Its influence upon animal life is feeble, compared with 
some other stimuli to be mentioned hereafter; but it has its pro- 
portion of force. Sleep has been said to be a tendency to death; 
now the absence of light we know invites to sleep, and the 
return of it excites the waking state. The late Mr. Rittenhouse 
informed me, that for many years he had constantly awoke 
with the first dawn of the morning light, both in summer and 
winter. Its influence upon the animal spirits strongly demon- 
strates its connection with animal life, and hence we find a 



138 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

cheerful and a depressed state of mind in many people, and more 
especially in invalids, to be intimately connected with the pres- 
ence or absence of the rays of the sun. The well known pedes- 
trian traveller Mr. Stewart in one of his visits to this city in- 
formed me, that he had spent a summer in Lapland in the latitude 
of 69 during the greatest part of which time the sun was 
seldom out of sight. He enjoyed he said during this period, 
uncommon health and spirits, both of which he ascribed to the 
long duration, and invigorating influence of light. These facts 
will surprise us less when we attend to the effects of light upon 
vegetables. Some of them lose their colour by being deprived of 
it; many of them discover a partiality to it in the direction of 
their flowers; and all of them discharge their pure air only while 
they are exposed to it.* 

Sound has an extensive influence upon human life. Its 
numerous artificial and natural sources need not be mentioned. 
I shall only take notice, that the currents of winds, the passage 
of insects through the air, and even the growth of vegetables, are 
all attended with an emission of sound; and although they be- 
come imperceptible from habit; yet there is reason to believe 
they all act upon the body, through the mediums of the ears. The 
existence of these sounds, is established by the reports of persons 
who have ascended two or three miles from earth in a Balloon. 
They tell us that the silence which prevails in those regions of 
the air is so new and complete, as to produce an awful solemnity 
in their mjnds. It is not necessary that these sounds should excite 
sensation, or perception in order to their exerting a degree of 
stimulus upon the body. There are a hundred impressions daily 
made upon it, which from habit, are not followed by sensation. 
The stimulus of aliment upon the stomach, and of blood upon 

* "Organization, sensation, spontaneous motion and life, exist only 
at the surface of the earth, and in places exposed to light. We might 
affirm the flame of Prometheus's torch was the expression of a philosophi- 
cal truth that did not escape the ancients. Without light, nature was life- 
less, inanimate and dead. A benevolent God by producing life has spread 
organization, sensation and thought over the surface of the earth." 
Lavoissier. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 139 

the heart and arteries, probably cease to be felt, only from the 
influence of habit. The exercise of walking, which was originally 
^he result of a deliberate act of the will, is performed from habit 
without the least degree of consciousness. It is unfortunate for 
this, and many other parts of physiology, that we forget what 
passed in our minds the first two or three years of our lives. Could 
we recollect the manner in which we acquired our first ideas, 
and the progress of our knowledge with the evolution of our 
senses, and faculties; it would relieve us from many difficulties, 
and controversies upon this subject. Perhaps this forgetfulness 
by children, of the origin and progress of their knowledge, might 
be remedied by our attending more closely to the first effects of 
impressions, sensation, and perception upon them as discovered 
by their little actions; all of which probably have a meaning, as 
determined as any of the actions of men or women. 

The influence of sounds of a certain kind in producing ex- 
citement, and thereby increasing life, cannot be denied. Fear 
produces debility which is a tendency to death. Sound obviates 
this debility, and thus restores the system to the natural, and 
healthy grade of life. The school boy and the clown, invigorate 
their feeble and trembling limbs, by whistling or singing as they 
pass by a country church yard, and the soldier feels his departing 
life recalled in the onset of a battle by the noise of the fife, and 
of the poet's "spirit stirring drum." Intoxication is frequently 
attended with a higher degree of life than is natural. Now sound 
we know will produce this with a very moderate portion of 
fermented liquor; hence we find men are more easily and higHy 
excited by it at public entertainments where there is music, loud 
talking, and hallooing, than in private companies where there is 
no auxiliary stimulus added to that of the wine. I wish these 
effects of sound upon animal life to be remembered; for I shall 
mention it hereafter as a remedy for the weak state of life in 
many diseases, and shall relate an instance in which a scream 
suddenly extorted by grief, proved the means of resuscitating a 
person, who was supposed to be dead, and who had exhibited 
the usual recent marks of the extinction of life. 



i 4 o SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

I shall conclude this head by remarking that persons, who are 
destitute of hearing and seeing, possess life in a more languid 
state than other people; and hence arise the dulness, and want 
of spirits which they discover in their intercourse with the world. 

3. Odors have a sensible effect in promoting animal life. The 
greater healthiness of the country, than cities, is derived in part 
from the effluvia of odoriferous plants which float in the at- 
mosphere in the spring and summer months, acting upon the 
system, through the medium of the sense of smelling. The effects 
of odors, upon animal life, appear still more obvious in the sud- 
den revival of it, which they produce in cases of fainting. Here 
the smell of a few drops of hartshorn, or even of a burnt feather, 
has frequently in a few minutes restored the system, from a state 
of weakness bordering upon death, to an equable and regular 
degree of excitement. 

4. Air acts as a powerful stimulus upon the system through 
the medium of the lungs. The component parts of this fluid, and 
its decomposition in the lungs, will be considered in another place. 
I shall only remark here, that the circulation of the blood has 
been ascribed by Dr. Goodwin exclusively to the action of air 
upon the lungs and heart. Does the external air act upon any 
other part of the body besides those which have been mentioned? 
It is probable it does, and that we lose our sensation and con- 
sciousness of it, by habit. It is certain children cry, for the most 
part, as soon as they come into the world. May not this be the 
effect of the sudden impression of air upon the tender surface of 
their bodies? And may not the red color of their skins, be occa- 
sioned by an irritation excited on them by the stimulus of the 
air? It is certain it acts powerfully upon dinudated animal fibres; 
for who has not observed a sore, and even the skin when de- 
prived of its cuticle, to be affected, when long exposed to the 
air, with pain, and inflammation? The stimulus of air, in pro- 
moting the natural actions of the alimentary canal, cannot be 
doubted. A certain portion of it seems to be necessarily present 
in the bowels in a healthy state. 

5. Heat is an uniform and active stimulus in promoting life. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 141 

It is derived, in certain seasons and countries, in part from the 
sun; but its principal source is from the lungs, in which it appears 
to be generated by the decomposition of pure air, and from 
whence it is conveyed by means of the circulation, to every part 
of the body. The extensive influence of heat upon animal life, 
is evident from its decay and suspension during the winter in 
certain animals, and from its revival upon the approach and 
action of the vernal sun. It is true, life is diminished much less in 
man, from the distance and absence of the sun, than in other 
animals; but this must be ascribed to his possessing reason in so 
high a degree, as to enable him to supply the abstraction of heat, 
by the action of other stimuli upon his system. 

6. Exercise acts as a stimulus upon the body in various ways. 
Its first impression is upon the muscles. These act upon the 
blood vessels, and they upon the nerves and brain. The necessity 
of exercise to animal life is indicated, by its being kindly imposed 
upon man in paradise. The change which the human body under- 
went by the fall, rendered the same salutary stimulus necessary 
to its life, in the more active form of labor. But we are not to 
suppose, that motion is excited in the body by exercise or labor 
alone. It is constantly stimulated by the positions of standing, 
sitting, and lying upon the sides; all of which act more or less 
upon muscular fibres, and by their means, upon every part of 
the system. 

7. The pleasures we derive from our senses have a powerful 
and extensive influence upon human life. The number of these 
pleasures, and their proximate cause, will form an agreeable sub- 
ject for two or three future lectures. 

We proceed next to consider the internal stimuli which pro- 
duce animal life. These are 

I. FOOD. This acts in the following ways. i. Upon the tongue. 
Such are the sensibility and excitability of this organ, and so 
intimate is its connection with every other part of the body; that 
the whole system is invigorated by aliment, as soon as it comes 
in contact with it. 2. By mastication. This moves a number of 
muscles and blood vessels situated near the brain and heart, and 



142 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

of course imparts impressions to them. 3. By deglutition, which 
acts upon similar parts, and with the same effect. 4. By its pres- 
ence in the stomach, in which it acts by its quantity and quality. 
Food, by distending the stomach, stimulates the contiguous parts 
of the body. A moderate degree of distention of the stomach 
and bowels is essential to a healthy excitement of the system. 
Vegetable aliment, and drinks, which contain less nourishment 
than animal food, serve this purpose in the human body. Hay 
acts in the same manner in a horse. Sixteen pounds, of this light 
food, are necessary to keep up such a degree of distention in the 
stomach and bowels of this animal, as to impart to him his natural 
grade of strength and life. The quality of food, when of a stim- 
ulating nature, supplies the place of distention from its quantity. 
A single onion will support a lounging Highlander on the hills 
of Scotland for four and twenty hours. A moderate quantity of 
salted meat, or a few ounces of sugar, have supplied the place 
of pounds of less stimulating food. Even indigestible substances, 
which remain for days, or perhaps weeks in the stomach, exert 
a stimulus there, which has an influence upon animal life. It is 
in this way the tops of briars, and the twigs of trees, devoid not 
only of nourishing matter, but of juices, support the camel in his 
journeys through the deserts of the Eastern countries. Chips of 
cedar posts, moistened with water, have supported horses for two 
or three weeks, during a long voyage from Boston to Surinam; 
and the indigestible cover of an old Bible, preserved the life of 
a dog, accidentally confined in a room at New Castle upon Tyne, 
for twenty days. 5. Food stimulates the whole body by means of 
the process of digestion which goes forward in the stomach. This 
animal function is carried on in part by fermentation, in which 
there is an extrication of heat, and air. Now both these, it has 
been remarked, exert a stimulus in promoting animal life. 

Drinks when they consist of fermented or distilled liquors, 
stimulate from their quality; but when they consist of water, 
either in its simple state, or impregnated with any sapid sub- 
stance, they act principally by distention. 

II. The chyle acts upon the lacteals, mesenteric glands, and 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 143 

thoracic duct, in its passage through them; and it is highly prob- 
able, its first mixture with the blood in the subclavian vein, and 
its first action on the heart, are attended with considerable stimu- 
lating effects. 

III. The blood is a very important internal stimulus. It has 
been disputed whether it acts by its quality, or only by distend- 
ing the blood vessels. It appears to act in both ways. I believe 
with Dr. Whytt, that the blood stimulates the heart and arteries 
by a specific action. But if this be not admitted, its influence in 
distending the blood vessels in every part of the body, and 
thereby imparting extensive and uniform impressions to every 
animal fibre, cannot be denied. In support of this assertion it 
has been remarked, that in those persons who die of hunger, 
there is no diminution of the quantity of blood in the large blood 
vessels. 

IV. A certain TENSION of the glands, and of other parts of the 
body, contributes to support animal life. This is evident in the 
vigor which is imparted to the system, by the fulness of the 
seminal vesicle and gall bladder, and by the distention of the 
uterus in pregnancy. This distention is so great, in some instances, 
as to prevent sleep for many days and even weeks before de- 
livery. It serves the valuable purpose of rendering the female 
system less liable to death during its continuance, than at any 
other time. By increasing the quantity of life in the body, it often 
suspends the fatal issue of pulmonary consumption, and ensures 
a temporary victory over the plague and other malignant fevers; 
for death, from those diseases, seldom takes place until the stim- 
ulus, from the distention of the uterus, is removed by parturition. 

V. The exercises of the faculties of the mind have a wonder- 
ful influence in increasing the quantity of human life. They all 
act by reflection only, after having been previously excited into 
action by impressions made upon the body. This view, of the 
reaction of the mind upon the body, accords with the simplicity 
of other operations in the animal economy. It is thus the brain 
repays the heart for the blood it conveys to it, by reacting upon 
its muscular fibres. The influence of the different faculties of 



144 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

the mind is felt in the pulse, in the stomach, and in the liver, and 
is seen in the face, and other external parts of the body. Those 
which act most unequivocally in promoting life, are the under- 
standing, the imagination, and the passions. Thinking belongs to 
the understanding, and is attended with an obvious influence 
upon the degree and duration of life. Intense study has often ren- 
dered the body insensible to the debilitating effects of cold, and 
hunger. Men of great and active understandings, who blend with 
their studies, temperance and exercise, are generally long lived. 
In support of this assertion, a hundred names might be added to 
those of Newton and Franklin. Its truth will be more fully estab- 
lished by attending to the state of human life in persons of an 
opposite intellectual character. The Cretins, a race of idiots in 
Valais in Switzerland, travellers tell us, are all short lived. Com- 
mon language justifies the opinion of the stimulus of the under- 
standing upon the brain, hence it is common to say of dull men, 
that they have scarcely ideas enough to keep themselves awake. 

The imagination acts with great force upon the body, 
whether its numerous associations produce pleasure or pain. But 
the passions pour a constant stream upon the wheels of life. They 
have been subdivided into emotions and passions properly so 
called. The former have for their objects present, the latter, 
future good and evil. All the objects of the passions are accom- 
panied with desire or aversion. To the former belong chiefly, 
hope, love, ambition, and avarice; to the latter fear, hatred, 
malice, envy and the like. Joy, anger, and terror, belong to the 
class of emotions. The passions and emotions have been further 
divided into stimulating and sedative. Our business at present is 
to consider their first effect only upon the body. In the original 
constitution of human nature, we were made to be stimulated 
by such passions and emotions only as have moral good for their 
objects. Man was designed to be always under the influence of 
hope, love, and joy. By the loss of his innocence, he has sub- 
jected himself to the dominion of passions and emotions of a 
malignant nature; but they possess, in common with such as are 
good, a stimulus which renders them subservient to the purpose 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 145 

of promoting animal life. It is true, they are like the stimulus 
of a dislocated bone in their operation upon the body, compared 
with the action of antagonist muscles stretched over bones, which 
gently move in their natural sockets. The effects of the good 
passions and emotions, in promoting health and longevity, have 
been taken notice of by many writers. They produce a flame, 
gentle and pleasant, like oil perfumed with frankincense in the 
lamp of life. There are instances likewise of persons who have 
derived strength, and long life from the influence of .the evil 
passions and emotions that have been mentioned. Dr. Darwin 
relates the history of a man, who used to overcome the fatigue 
induced by travelling, by thinking of a person whom he hated. 
The debility induced by disease, is often removed by a sudden 
change in the temper. This is so common, that even nurses pre- 
dict a recovery in persons as soon as they become peevish and 
ill-natured, after having been patient during the worst stage of 
their sickness. This peevishness acts as a gentle stimulus upon the 
system in its languid state, and thus turns the scale in favour 
of life and health. The famous Benjamin Lay of this state, who 
lived to be eighty years of age, was of a very irascible temper. 
Old Elwes was a prodigy of avarice, and every court in Europe 
furnishes instances of men who have attained to extreme old age, 
who have lived constantly under the dominion of ambition. In 
the course of a long inquiry, which I instituted some years ago 
into the state of the body and mind in old people, I did not find 
a single person above eighty, who had not possessed an active 
understanding, or active passions. Those different and opposite 
faculties of the mind, when in excess, happily supply the place 
of each other. Where they unite their forces, they extinguish the 
flame of life, before the oil which feeds it is consumed. 

In another place I shall resume the influence of the faculties 
of the mind upon human life, as they discover themselves in the 
different pursuits of men. 

I have only to add here, that I see no occasion to admit, with 
the followers of Dr. Brown, that the mind is active in sleep, in 
preserving the motions of life. I hope to establish hereafter the 



146 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

opinion of Mr. Locke, that the mind is always passive in sound 
sleep. It is true it acts in dreams; but these depend upon a morbid 
state of the brain, and therefore do not belong to the present 
stage of our subject; for I am now considering animal life only 
in the healthy states of the body. I shall say presently, that dreams 
are intended to supply the absence of some natural stimulus, and 
hence we find they occur in those persons most commonly, in 
whom there is a want of healthy action in the system induced 
by the excess, or deficiency of customary stimuli. 

Life is in a languid state, in the morning. It acquires vigor 
by the gradual, and successive application of stimuli in the fore- 
noon. It is in its most perfect state about midday, and remains 
stationary for some hours. From the diminution of the sensibility 
and contractility of the system to action of impr^sions, it lessens 
in the evening, and becomes again languid at bedtime. These 
facts will admit of an extensive application hereafter in our lec- 
tures upon the practice of physic. 

LECTURE II 

GENTLEMEN, 

The stimuli which have been enumerated, when they act col- 
lectively, and within certain bounds, produce a healthy waking 
state. But they do not always act collectively, nor in the deter- 
mined and regular manner that has been described. There is in 
many states of the system, a deficiency of some stimuli, and in 
some of its states, an apparent absence of them all. To account 
for the continuance of animal life under such circumstances, 
two things must be premised, before we proceed to take notice 
of the diminution, or absence of the stimuli which support it. 

i . The healthy actions of the body in the waking state, con- 
sist in a proper degree of what has been called excitability, and 
excitement. The former is the medium on which stimuli act in 
producing the latter. In an exact proportion, and a due relation 
of both, diffused uniformly throughout every part of the body, 
consists good health. Disease is the reverse of this. It depends in 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 147 

part upon a disproportion between excitement and excitability, 
and in a partial distribution of each of them. In thus distinguish- 
ing the different states of excitement and excitability in health 
and sickness, you see I dissent from Dr. Brown, who supposes 
them to be uniform and equable, in the morbid, as well as the 
healthy states of the body. 

2. It is a law of the system, that the absence of one natural 
stimulus is generally supplied by the increased action of others. 
This is more certainly the case, where a natural stimulus is ab- 
stracted suddenly; for the excitability is thereby so instantly 
formed and accumulated, as to furnish a highly sensible and 
moveable surface for the remaining stimuli to act upon. Many 
proofs might be adduced in support of this proposition. The 
reduction of the excitement of the blood vessels, by means of 
cold, prepares the way for a full meal, or a warm bed, to excite 
in them the morbid actions which take place in a pleurisy or a 
rheumatism. A horse in a cold stable eats more than in a warm 
one; and thus counteracts the debility which would otherwise 
be induced upon his system, by the abstraction of the stimulus 
of warm air. 

These two propositions being admitted, I proceed next to 
inquire into the different degrees and states of animal life. The 
first departure from its ordinary and perfect state, which strikes 
us, is in 

I. Sleep: This is either natural or artificial. Natural sleep is 
induced by a diminution of the excitement, and excitability of 
the system by the continued application of the stimuli which act 
upon the body in its waking state. When these stimuli act in a 
determined degree, that is, when the same number of stimuli act 
with the same force, and for the same time, upon the system; 
sleep will be brought on at the same hour every night. But when 
they act with uncommon force, or for an unusual time, it is 
brought on at an earlier hour. Thus a long walk, or ride by per- 
sons accustomed to a sedentary life, unusual exercise of the 
understanding, the action of strong passions, or emotions, and 
the continual application of unusual sounds seldom fail of in- 



148 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

ducing premature sleep. It is recorded of Pope Ganganelli, that 
he? slept more soundly, and longer than usual, the night after 
he was raised to the papal chair. The effects of unusual sounds 
in bringing on premature sleep, is further demonstrated by that 
constant inclination to retire to bed at an early hour, which 
country people discover the first and second days they spend 
in a city, exposed frcgii morning till night to the noise of ham- 
mers, files and looms, or of drays, carts, waggons, and coaches 
rattling over pavements of stone. Sleep is further hastened by 
the absence of light, the cessation of sounds, and labor, and the 
recumbent posture of the body on a soft bed. 

Artificial sleep may be induced at any time by certain stimu- 
lating substances, particularly by opium. They act by carrying 
the system beyond the healthy grade of excitement, to a degree 
of indirect debility which Dr. Brown has happily called the 
sleeping point. The same point may be induced in the system 
at any time by the artificial abstraction of the usual stimuli of 
life. For example. Let a person shut himself up at mid-day in a 
dark room, remote from noise of all kinds, let him lie down on 
his back upon a soft bed in a temperate state of the atmosphere, 
and let him cease to think upon interesting subjects, or let him 
think only upon one subject, and he will soon fall asleep. Dr. 
Boerhaave relates an instance of a Dutch physician who having 
persuaded himself that waking was a violent state, and sleep the 
only natural one of the system; contrived by abstracting every 
kind of stimulus in the manner that has been mentioned, to sleep 
away whole days and nights, until at length he impaired his 
understanding, and finally perished in a public hospital in a state 
of idiotism. 

In thus anticipating a view of the cause of sleep, I have said 
nothing of the effects of diseases of the brain in inducing it. 
These belong to another part of our course. The short explana- 
tion I have given of its cause, was necessary in order to render 
the history of animal life, in that state of the system, more in- 
telligible. 

At the usual hour of sleep there is an abstraction of the stim- 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 149 

uli of light, sound and muscular motion. The stimuli which 
remain, and act with an increased force upon the body in sleep 
are, 

1. The heat which is discharged from the body, and confined 
by means of bed clothes. It is most perceptible when exhaled 
from a bed fellow. Heat obtained in this way, has sometimes 
been employed to restore declining life to the bodies of old 
people. Witness the damsel who lay for this purpose in the bosom 
of the king of Israel. The advantage of this external heat will 
appear further, when we consider how impracticable, or im- 
perfect sleep is, when we lie under too light covering in cold 
weather. 

2. The air which is applied to the lungs during sleep prob- 
ably acts with more force than in the waking state. I am dis- 
posed to believe that more air is phlogisticated in sleep than at 
any other time, for the smell of a close room in which a person 
has slept one night, we know, is much more disagreeable than 
that of a room under equal circumstances, in which half a dozen 
people have sat for the same number of hours in the day time. 
The action of decomposed air on the lungs and heart was spoken 
of in a former lecture. An increase in its quantity must necessarily 
have a powerful influence upon animal life during the sleeping 
state. 

3. Respiration is performed with a greater extension, and con- 
traction of the muscles of the breast in sleep than in the waking 
state; and this cannot fail of increasing the impetus of the blood 
in its passage through the heart and blood vessels. The increase 
of the fulness and force of the pulse in sleep, is probably owing 
in part to the action of respiration upon it. In another place I 
hope to elevate the rank of the blood vessels in the animal econ- 
omy, by shewing that they are the fountains of power in the 
body. They derive this preeminence from the protection and 
support they afford to every part of the system. They are the 
perpetual centinels of health and life; for they never partake in 
the repose which is enjoyed by the muscles and nerves. During 
sleep, their sensibility seems to be converted into contractility, 



1 5 o SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

by which means their muscular fibres are more easily moved by 
the blood, than in the waking state. The diminution of sensi- 
bility in sleep is proved by many facts to be mentioned here- 
after; and the change of sensibility into contractility will appear, 
when we come to consider the state of animal life in infancy and 
old age. 

4. Aliment in the stomach acts more powerfully in sleep, 
than in the waking state. This is evident from digestion going 
on more rapidly when we are awake than when we sleep. The 
more flow the digestion, the greater is the stimulus of the aliment 
in the stomach. Of this we have many proofs in daily life. La- 
bourers object to milk as a breakfast; because it digests too soon, 
and often call for food in a morning, which they can feel all 
day in their stomachs. Sausages, fat pork, and onions are generally 
preferred by them for this purpose. A moderate supper is favour- 
able to easy and sound sleep; and the want of it in persons who 
are accustomed to that meal, is often followed by a restless night. 
The absence of its stimulus is probably supplied by a full gall 
bladder (which always attends an empty stomach) in persons 
who are not in the habit of eating suppers. 

5. The stimulus of the urine, accumulated in the bladder 
during sleep, has a perceptible influence upon animal life. It is 
often so considerable as to interrupt sleep; and it is one of the 
causes of our waking at a regular hour in the morning. It is 
moreover a frequent cause of the activity of the understanding 
and passions in dreams; and hence we dream more in our morn- 
ing slumbers when the bladder is full, than we do in the begin- 
ning, or middle of the night. 

6. The faeces exert a constant stimulus upon the bowels in 
sleep. This is so considerable as to render it less profound, when 
they have been accumulated for two or three days, or when 
they have been deposited in the extremity of the alimentary 
canal. 

7. The partial and irregular exercises of the understanding 
and passions in dreams have an occasional influence in promoting 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 151 

life. They occur only where there is a deficiency of other stim- 
uli. Such is the force with which the mind acts upon the body 
in dreams, that Dr. Brambilla, physician to the emperor of Ger- 
many, informs us, that he has seen instances of wounds in sol- 
diers being inflamed, and putting on a gangrenous appearance 
in consequence of the commotions excited in their bodies by 
irritating dreams. The stimulating passions act through the me- 
dium of the will; and the exercises of this faculty of the mind 
sometimes extend so far as to produce actions in the muscles of 
the limbs, and occasionally in the whole body, as we see in per- 
sons who walk in their sleep. The stimulus of lust often awakens 
us with pleasure or pain, according as we are disposed to respect, 
or disobey the precepts of our Maker. The angry and revenge- 
ful passions often deliver us in like manner, from the imaginary 
guilt of murder. Even the debilitating passions of grief, and fear, 
produce an indirect operation upon the system that is favourable 
to life in sleep, for they excite that distressing disease called the 
night mare, which prompts us to speak, or halloo, and by thus 
invigorating respiration, restores the languid circulation of the 
blood in the heart and brain. Do not complain then, gentlemen, 
when you are bestrode by this midnight hag. She is kindly sent 
to prevent your sudden death. Persons who go to bed in good 
health, and are found dead the succeeding morning, are said most 
commonly to die of this disease. 

I cannot dismiss the subject of the stimulating effects of 
dreams, without taking notice of an opinion of Dr. Darwin 
which is connected with it. He supposes dreams are never at- 
tended with volition. The facts which have been mentioned, 
prove, that the will frequently acts with more force in them, 
than in the waking state. 

I proceed now to inquire into the state of animal life in its 
different stages. I pass over for the present its history in gen- 
eration. It will be sufficient only to remark in this place, that its 
first motion is produced by the stimulus of the male seed upon 
the female ovum. This opinion is not originally mine. You will 



i 5 2 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

find it in Dr. Haller.* The pungent taste which Mr. John Hunter 
discovered in the male seed, renders it peculiarly fit for this pur- 
pose. No sooner is the female ovum thus set in motion, and the 
foetus formed, than its capacity of life is supported, 

1 . By the stimulus of the heat which it derives from its con- 
nection with its mother in the womb. 

2. By the stimulus of its own circulating blood. 

3. By its constant motion in the womb after the third month 
of pregnancy. The absence of this motion for a few days, is 
always a sign of the indisposition or death of a foetus. Consider- 
ing how early a child is accustomed to it, it is strange that a 
cradle should ever have been denied to it after it comes into the 
world. 

II. In infants there is an absence of many of the stimuli which 
support life. Their excretions arc in a great measure deficient 
in acrimony, and their mental faculties are too weak to exert 
much influence upon their bodies. But the absence of stimulus 
from those causes, is amply supplied 

i. By the very great excitability of their systems to those 
of light, sound, heat, and air. So powerfully do light and sound 
act upon them, that the author of nature has kindly defended 
their eyes and ears from an excess of their impressions by im- 
perfect vision, and hearing, for several weeks after birth. The 
capacity of infants to be acted upon by moderate degrees of 
heat is evident from their suffering less from cold than grown 
people. This is so much the case, that we read in Mr. Umfreville's 
account of Hudson's Bay, of a child that was found alive upon 
the back of its mother after she was frozen to death. I before 
hinted at the action of the air upon the bodies of new born infants 
in producing the red color of their skins. It is highly probable, 
(from a fact formerly mentioned) that the first impression of 
the atmosphere which produces this redness is accompanied with 
pain, and this we know is a stimulus of a very active nature. 
By a kind law of sensation, impressions, that were originally 

* "Novum fcetum a seminis masculi stimulo vitam concepisse." Ele- 
menta Physiologiae, vol. viii. p. 177. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 153 

painful, become pleasurable by repetition, or duration. This is 
remarkably evident in the impression now under consideration, 
and hence we find infants at a certain age, discover signs of an 
increase of life by their delightful gestures, when they are car- 
ried into the open air. Recollect further, gentlemen, what was 
said formerly, of excitability, predominating over sensibility in 
infants. We see it daily, not only in their patience of cold, but 
in the short time in which they cease to complain of the injuries 
they meet with from falls, cuts, and even severe surgical opera- 
tions. 

2. Animal life is supported in infants by their sucking, or 
feeding, nearly every hour in the day, and night when they are 
awake. I explained formerly the manner in which food stimu- 
lated the system. The action of sucking, supplies by the muscles 
employed in it, the stimulus of mastication. 

3. Laughing and Crying, which are universal in infancy, have 
a considerable influence in promoting animal life, by their action 
upon respiration, and the circulation of the blood. Laughing 
exists under all circumstances, independently of education or 
imitation. The child of a negro slave born only to inherit the 
toils and misery of its parents, receives its master with a smile 
every time he enters his kitchen, or a negro-quarter. But laugh- 
ing exists in infancy under circumstances still more unfavour- 
able to it, an instance of which is related by Mr. Bruce. After 
a journey of several hundred miles across the sands of Nubia, 
he came to a spring of water shaded by a few scrubby trees. Here 
he intended to have rested during the night, but he had not slept 
long, before he was awakened by a noise which he perceived was 
made by a solitary Arab equally fatigued, and half famished with 
himself, who was preparing to murder and plunder him. Mr. 
.Bruce rushed upon him, and made him his prisoner. The next 
morning he was joined by a half starved female companion, 
with an infant of six months old in her arms. In passing by this 
child, Mr. Bruce says it laughed and crowed in his face, and 
attempted to leap upon him. From this fact it would seem as if 
laughing was not only characteristic of our species, but that it 



i 5 4 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

was early and intimately connected with human life. The child 
of these Arabs had probably never seen a smile upon the faces 
of its ferocious parents, and perhaps had never, (before the sight 
of Mr. Bruce), beheld any other human creature. 

Crying has a considerable influence upon health and life in 
children. I have seen so many instances of its salutary effects, 
that I have satisfied myself that it is as possible for a child to 
"cry and be fat," as it is to "laugh and be fat." 

4. As children advance in life, the constancy of their appe- 
tites for food, and their disposition to laugh, and cry, lessen, 
but the diminution of these stimuli is supplied by exercise. The 
limbs, and tongues of children are always in motion. They 
continue likewise to eat oftener than adults. A crust of bread 
is commonly the last thing they ask for at night, and the first 
thing they call for in the morning. It is now they begin to feel 
the energy of their mental faculties. This stimulus is assisted 
in its force, by the disposition to prattle which is so universal 
among children. This habit of converting their ideas into words 
as fast as they rise, follows them to their beds, where we often 
hear them talk themselves to sleep in a whisper, or to use less 
correct, but more striking terms, by thinking aloud. 

5. Dreams act at an early period upon the bodies of children. 
Their smiles, startings, and occasional screams in their sleep 
appear to arise from them. After the third or fourth year of their 
lives, they sometimes confound them with things that are real. 
From observing the effects of this mistake upon the memory, a 
sensible woman whom I once knew, forbad her children to tell 
their dreams, lest they should contract habits of lying, by con- 
founding imaginary, with real events. 

6. New objects whether natural or artificial, are never seen 
by children without emotions of pleasure which act upon their 
capacity of life. The effects of novelty upon the tender bodies 
of children may easily be conceived, by its friendly influence 
upon the health of invalids who visit foreign countries, and who 
pass months, or years in a constant succession of new and agree- 
able impressions. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 155 

III. From the combination of all the stimuli that have been 
enumerated, human life is generally in excess from fifteen to 
thirty-five. It is during this period, the passions blow a perpetual 
storm. The most predominating of them is the love of pleasure. 
No sooner does the system become insensible to this stimulus, 
than ambition succeeds it in, 

IV. The middle stage of life. Here we behold man in his 
most perfect physical state. The stimuli which now act upon 
him are so far regulated by prudence, that they are seldom ex- 
cessive in their force. The habits of order the system acquires in 
this period, continue to produce good health for many years 
afterwards, and hence bills of mortality prove that fewer persons 
die between forty and fifty-seven; than in any other seventeen 
years of human life. 

V. In OLD AGE the senses of seeing, hearing and touch are 
impaired. The venereal appetite is weakened, or entirely extin- 
guished. The pulse becomes slow, and subject to frequent in- 
termissions, from a decay in the force of the blood vessels; 
Exercise becomes impracticable, or irksome, and the operations 
of the understanding are performed with languor and difficulty. 
In this shattered and declining state of the system, the absence 
and diminution of all the stimuli which have been mentioned 
are supplied, 

1 . By an increase in the quantity, and by the peculiar quality 
of the food which is taken by old people. They generally eat 
twice as much as persons in middle life, and they bear with pain 
the usual intervals between meals. They moreover prefer that 
kind of food which is savoury and stimulating. The stomach of 
the celebrated Parr, who died in the one hundred and fiftieth 
year of his age, was found full of strong, nourishing aliment. 

2. By the stimulus of the faeces which are frequently retained 
for five or six days in the bowels of old people. 

3. By the stimulus of fluids rendered preternaturally acrid by 
age. The urine, sweat and even the tears of old people, possesses a 
peculiar acrimony. Their blood likewise loses part of the mild- 
ness which is natural to that fluid; and hence the difficulty with 



156 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

which sores heal in old people; and hence too the reason why 
cancers are more common in the decline, than in any other period 
of human life. 

4. By the uncommon activity of certain passions. These are 
either good or evil. To the former belong an increased vigor in 
the operations of those passions which have for their objects the 
Divine Being, or the whole family of mankind, or their own 
offspring, particularly their grand-children. To the latter pas- 
sions belong, malice, a hatred of the manners and fashions of the 
rising generation, and above all, avarice. This passion knows no 
holidays. Its stimulus is constant, though varied daily by the 
numerous means which it has discovered of increasing, securing, 
and perpetuating property. It has been observed that weak 
mental impressions produce much greater effects in old people 
than in persons in middle life. A trifling indisposition in a grand- 
child, an inadvertent act of unkindness from a friend, or the fear 
of losing a few shillings, have in many instances produced in 
them a degree of wakef ulness that has continued for two or three 
nights. It is to this highly excitable state of the system that Solo- 
mon probably alludes, when he describes the grasshopper as 
burdensome to old people. 

5. By the passion for talking, which is so common, as to be 
one of the characteristics of old age. I mentioned formerly, the 
influence of this stimulus upon animal life. Perhaps it is more 
necessary in the female constitution than in the male; for it has 
long ago been remarked, that women who are very taciturn, 
are generally unhealthy. 

6. By their wearing warmer clothes, and preferring warmer 
rooms, than in the former periods of their lives. This practice is 
so uniform, that it would not be difficult in many cases to tell 
a man's age by his dress, or by finding out at what degree of 
heat he found himself comfortable in a close room. 

7. By dreams. These are universal among old people. They 
arise from their short and imperfect sleep. 

8. It has been often said that "We are once men, and twice 
children." In speaking of the state of animal life in infancy, I 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 157 

remarked that the contractility of the animal fibres, predomi- 
nated over their sensibility in that stage of life. The same thing 
takes place in old people, and it is in consequence of the return 
of this infantile state of the system, that all the stimuli which 
have been mentioned act upon them with much more force than 
in middle life. This sameness, in the predominance of excitability 
over sensibility in children and old people, will account for the 
similarity of their habits with respect to eating, sleep, exercise, 
and the use of fermented or distilled liquors. It is from the in- 
crease of excitability in old people, that so small a quantity of 
strong drink intoxicates them; and it is from an ignorance of this 
change in their constitutions, that many of them become drunk- 
ards after passing the early and middle stages of life with sober 
characters. 

Life is continued in a less imperfect state in old age, in women 
than in men. The former sew, and knit, and spin, after they lose 
the use of their ears and eyes; whereas the latter, after losing 
the use of those senses, frequently pass the evening of their lives 
in a torpid state in a chimney corner. It is from the influence 
of moderate and gently -stimulating employments, upon the 
female constitution, that more women live to be old, than men, 
and that they rarely survive their usefulness in domestic life. 

Hitherto the principles I am endeavouring to establish, have 
been applied to explain the cause of life in its more common 
forms. Let us next inquire, how far they will enable us to explain 
its continuance in certain morbid states of the body, in which 
there is a diminution of some, and an apparent abstraction of all 
the stimuli, which have been supposed to produce animal 
life. 

I. We observe some people to be blind, or deaf and dumb 
from their birth. The same defects of sight, hearing, and speech, 
are sometimes brought on by diseases. Here animal life is de- 
prived of all those numerous stimuli, which arise from light, 
colors, sounds, and speech. But the absence of these stimuli is 
supplied, 

i. By increased sensibility and excitability in their remaining 



158 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

senses. The ears, the nose, and the fingers, afford a surface for 
impressions in blind people which frequently overbalances the 
loss of their eyesight. There are two blind young men, brothers, 
in this city, of the name of Dutton, who can tell when they 
approach a post in walking across a street, by a peculiar sound 
which the ground under their feet emits in the neighbourhood 
of the post. Their sense of hearing is still more exquisite to 
sounds of another kind. They can tell the names of a number of 
tame pidgeons, with which they amuse themselves in a little gar- 
den, by only hearing them fly over their heads. The celebrated 
blind philosopher Dr. Moyse can distinguish a black dress on his 
friends, by its smell; and we read of many instances of blind 
persons who have been able to perceive colors by rubbing their 
fingers upon them. One of these persons mentioned by Mr. 
Boyle, has left upon record an accouitt of the specific quality of 
each color as it affected his sense of touch. He says, black im- 
parted the most, and blue, the least perceptible sense of asperity 
to his fingers. 

2. By an increase of vigor in the exercises of the mental 
faculties. The poems of Homer, Milton and Blacklock, and the 
attainments of Sanderson in mathematical knowledge, all dis- 
cover how much the energy of the mind is increased by the 
absence of impressions upon the organs of vision. 

II. We sometimes behold life in idiots in whom there is not 
only an absence of the stimuli of the understanding and passions; 
but frequently from the weakness of their bodies, a deficiency 
of the locomotive powers. Here an inordinate appetite for food, 
or venereal pleasures, or a constant habit of laughing, or talking, 
or playing with their hands and feet, supply the place of the 
stimulating operations of the mind, and of general bodily exer- 
cise. Of the inordinate force of the venereal appetite in idiots 
we have many proofs. The Cretins are much addicted to venery; 
and Dr. Michaelis tells us that the idiot whom he saw at the 
Pesaiac falls in New Jersey, who had passed six and twenty years 
in a cradle, acknowledged that he had venereal desires, and 
wished to be married, for the Doctor adds, he had a sense of 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 159 

religion upon his fragment of mind, and of course did not wish 
to gratify that appetite in an unlawful manner. 

III. How is animal life supported in persons who pass many 
days, and even weeks without food, and in some instances with- 
out drinks? Long fasting is usually the effect of disease, of neces- 
sity, or of a principle of religion. When it arises from the first 
cause, the actions of life are kept up by the stimulus of disease. 
The absence of food when accidental, or submitted to as a means 
of producing moral happiness, is supplied, 

1. By the stimulus of a full gall bladder. This state of the 
receptacle of bile, has generally been found to accompany an 
empty stomach. The bile is sometimes absorbed, and imparts a 
yellow color to the skin of persons who suffer or die of famine. 

2. By increased acrimony in all the secretions and excretions 
of the body. The saliva becomes so acrid by long fasting, as to 
excoriate the gums, and the breath acquires not only a fcetor, 
but a pungency so active, as to draw tears from the eyes of 
persons exposed to it. 

3. By increased sensibility and excitability in the sense of 
touch. The blind man mentioned by Mr. Boyle who could dis- 
tinguish colors by his fingers, possessed this talent only after 
fasting. Even a draught of any kind of liquor deprived him of 
it. I have taken notice in my account of the yellow fever in 
Philadelphia in the year 1793, of the effects of a diet bordering 
upon fasting for six weeks, in producing a quickness and cor- 
rectness in my perceptions of the state of the pulse, which I had 
never experienced before. 

4. By an increase of activity jn the understanding and pas- 
sions. Gamesters often improve the exercises of their minds when 
they are about to play for a large sum of money, by living for 
a day or two upon roasted apples and cold water. Where the 
passions are excited into preternatural action, the absence of the 
stimulus of food is scarcely felt. I shall hereafter mention the 
influence of the desire of life, upon its preservation under all 
circumstances. It acts with peculiar force when fasting is acci- 
dental. But when it is submitted to as a religious duty, it is accom-, 



160 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

panied by sentiments and feelings which more than balance the 
abstraction of aliment. The body of Moses was sustained, prob- 
ably without a miracle, during an abstinence of forty days and 
forty nights, by the pleasure he derived from conversing with 
his Maker "Face to face, as a man speaking with his friend." * 

I remarked formerly that the veins discover no deficiency of 
blood in persons who die of famine. Death from this cause seems 
to be less the eifect of the want of food, than of the combined 
and excessive operation of the stimuli, which supply its place 
in the system. 

IV. We come now to a difficult inquiry, and that is, how is 
life supported during the total abstraction of external and in- 
ternal stimuli which takes place in asphixia, or in apparent death, 
from all its numerous causes? 

I took notice in a former lecture, that ordinary life consisted 
in the excitement, and excitability of the different parts of the 
body; and that they were occasionally changed into each other. 
In apparent death from violent emotions of the mind, from the 
sudden impression of miasmata, or from drowning, there is a loss 
of excitement; but the excitability of the system remains for 
minutes, and in some instances for hours afterwards unimpaired, 
provided the accident which produced the loss of excitement 
has not been attended with such exertions as are calculated to 
waste it. If for example, a person should fall suddenly into the 
water, without bruising his body, and sink before his fears, or 
exertions had time to dissipate his excitability; his recovery from 
apparent death might be effected by the gentle action of heat, or 
frictions upon his body, so as to convert his accumulated ex- 
citability gradually into excitement. The same condition of the 
system takes place when apparent death occurs from freezing, 
and a recovery is accomplished by the same gentle application 
of stimuli, provided the organization of the body be not injured, 
or its excitability wasted, by violent exertions previously to its 
freezing. This excitability is the vehicle of motion, and motion 
_ 3 

* Exodus xxxiii. n. xxxiv. 28. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 161 

when continued long enough produces sensation, which is soon 
followed by thought; and in these, I said formerly, consists per- 
fect life in the human body. 

For this explanation of the manner in which life is suspended, 
and revived in persons apparently dead from cold, I am indebted 
to Mr. John Hunter, who supposes, if it were possible for the 
body to be suddenly frozen by an instantaneous abstraction of 
its heat, life might be continued for many years in a suspended 
state, and revived at pleasure; provided the body were preserved 
constantly in a temperature barely sufficient to prevent reanima- 
tion, and never so great, as to endanger the destruction of any 
organic part. The resuscitation of insects that have been in a 
torpid state for months, and perhaps years, in substances that have 
preserved their organization, should at least defend this bold 
proposition from being treated as chimerical. The effusions even 
of the imagination of such men as Mr. Hunter, are entitled 
to respect. They often become the germs of future discov- 
eries. 

In that state of suspended animation which occurs in acute 
diseases, and which has sometimes been denominated a trance; 
the system is nearly in the same excitable state that it is in appar- 
ent death from drowning, and freezing. Resuscitation in these 
cases is not the effect as in those which have been mentioned 
of artificial applications made to the body for that purpose. It 
appears to be spontaneous; but it is produced by impressions 
made upon the ears, and by the operations of the mind in dreams. 
Of the action of these stimuli upon the body in its apparently life- 
less state, I have satisfied myself by many facts. I once attended 
a citizen of Philadelphia, who died of a pulmonary disease in the 
Both year of his age. A few days before his death he begged 
that he might not be interred until one week after the usual signs 
of life had left his body, and gave as a reason for this request, 
that he had when a young man, died to all appearance of the 
yellow fever in one of the West-India islands. In this situation 
he distinctly heard the persons who attended him, fix upon the 
time, and place, of burying him. The horror of being put under 



1 62 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

ground alive, produced such distressing emotions in his mind, 
as to diffuse motion throughout his body, and finally excited in 
him all the usual functions of life. In Dr. Creighton's essay upon 
mental derangement there is a history of a case nearly of a 
similar nature. "A young lady (says the Doctor) an attendant 

on the princess of , after having been confined to her bed 

for a great length of time, with a violent nervous disorder, was 
at last, to all appearance, deprived of life. Her lips were quite 
pale, her face resembled the countenance of a dead person, and 
her body grew cold. She was removed from the room in which 
she died, was laid in a coffin, and the day for her funeral was 
fixed on. The day arrived, and according to the custom of the 
country, funeral songs and hymns were sung before the door. 
Just as the people were about to nail on the lid of the coffin, 
a kind of perspiration was observed on the surface of her body. 
She recovered. The following is the account she gave of her 
sensations; she said, "It seemed to her as if in a dream, that she 
was really dead; yet she was perfectly conscious of all that hap- 
pened around her. She distinctly heard her friends speaking and 
lamenting her death at the side of her coffin. She felt them pull 
on the dead clothes, and lay her in it. This feeling produced a 
mental anxiety which she could not describe. She tried to cry 
out, but her mind was without power, and could not act on her 
body. She had the contradictory feeling as if she were in her 
own body, and not in it, at the same time. It was equally impossi- 
ble for her to stretch out her arm or open her eyes, as to cry, 
although she continually endeavoured to do so. The internal 
anguish of her mind was at its utmost height when the funeral 
hymns began to be sung, and when the lid of the coffin was 
about to be nailed on. The thought that she was to be buried 
alive was the first which gave activity to her mind, and enabled 
it to operate on her corporeal frame." 

Where the ears lose their capacity of being acted upon by 
stimuli, the mind by its operations in dreams, becomes a source 
of impressions which again set the wheels of life in motion. 
There is an account published by Dr. Arnold in his observations 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 163 

upon insanity,* of a certain John Engelbreght a German, who 
was believed to be dead, and who was evidently resuscitated by 
the exercises of his mind upon subjects which were of a delight- 
ful and stimulating nature. This history shall be taken from 
Mr. Engelbreght's words. "It was on Thursday noon (says he) 
about 12 o'clock when I perceived that death was making his 
approaches upon me from the lower parts upwards, insomuch 
that my whole body became stiff. I had no feeling left in my 
hands and feet, neither in any other part of my whole body, 
nor was I at last able to speak or see, for my mouth now be- 
coming very stiff, I was no longer able to open it, nor did I 
feel it any longer. My eyes also broke in my head in such a man- 
ner that I distinctly felt it. For all that, I understood what they 
said, when they were praying by me, and I distinctly heard them 
say, feel his legs, how stiff, and cold they have become. This I 
heard distinctly, but I had no perception of their touch. I heard 
the watchman cry 1 1 o'clock, but at 1 2 o'clock my hearing left 
me. After relating his passage from the body to heaven with the 
velocity of an arrow shot from a cross bow, he proceeds, and 
says that as he was twelve hours in dying, so he was twelve hours 
in returning to life. "As I died (says he) from beneath up- 
wards, so I revived again the contrary way from above to be- 
neath, or from top to toe. Being conveyed back from the heav- 
enly glory, I began to hear again something of what they were 
praying for me, in the same room with me. Thus was my hear- 
ing, the first sense I recovered. After this I began to have a per- 
ception of my eyes, so that by little and little, my whole body 
became strong, and sprightly, and no sooner did I get a feeling 
of my legs and feet, than I arose and stood firm upon them with 
a firmness I had never enjoyed before. The heavenly joy I had 
experienced, invigorated me to such a degree, that people were 
astonished at my rapid, and almost instantaneous recovery." 

The explanation, I have given of the cause of resuscitation in 
this man, will serve to refute a belief in a supposed migration 

* Vol. ii. p. 298. 



1 64 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

of the soul from the body in cases of apparent death. The imagi- 
nation, it is true, usually conducts the whole mind to the abodes 
of happy or miserable spirits, but it acts here in the same way 
that it does when it transports it in common dreams, to numerous 
and distant parts of the world. 

There is nothing supernatural in Mr. Engelbreght being in- 
vigorated by his supposed flight to heaven. Pleasant dreams al- 
ways stimulate and strengthen the body, while dreams which are 
accompanied with distress, or labour debilitate, and fatigue it. 

LECTURE III 

GENTLEMEN, 

Let us next take a view of the state of animal life in the 
different inhabitants of our globe, as varied by the circumstances 
of civilization, diet, situation and climate. 

I. In the Indians of the northern latitudes of America, there 
is often a defect of the stimulus of aliment, and of the under- 
standing and passions. Their vacant countenances, and their long 
and disgusting taciturnity, are the effects of the want of action 
in their brains from a deficiency of ideas; and their tranquillity 
under all the* common circumstances of irritation, pleasure or 
grief, are the result of an -absence of passion; for they hold it 
to be disgraceful to shew any outward signs of anger, joy, or 
even of domestic affection. This account of the Indian character, 
I know is contrary to that which is given by Rousseau, and 
several other writers, who have attempted to prove that man 
may become perfect and happy, without the aids of civilization 
and religion. This opinion is contradicted by the experience of 
all ages, and is rendered ridiculous by the facts which are well 
ascertained in the history of the customs and habits of our 
American savages. In a cold climate they are the most miserable 
beings upon the face of the earth. The greatest part of their 
time is spent in sleep, or under the alternate influence of hunger 
and gluttony. They moreover indulge in vices which are alike 
contrary to moral and physical happiness. It is in consequence 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 165 

of these habits, that they discover so early the marks of old age, 
and that so few of them are long-lived. The absence and diminu- 
tion of many of the stimuli of life in these people is supplied in 
part, by the violent exertions with which they hunt, and carry 
on war, and by the extravagant manner with which they after- 
wards celebrate their exploits, in their savage dances and songs. 

II. In the inhabitants of the torrid regions of Africa, there is 
a deficiency of labor; for the earth produces spontaneously 
nearly all the sustenance they require. Their understandings and 
passions are moreover in a torpid state. But the absence of bodily 
and mental stimuli in these people, is amply supplied by the con- 
stant heat of the sun, by the profuse use of spices in their diet, 
and by the passion for musical sounds which so universally 
characterises the African nations. 

III. In Greenland the body is exposed during a long winter 
to such a degree of cold as to reduce the pulse to 40, or 50 
strokes in a minute. But the effects of this cold in lessening the 
quantity of life, are obviated in part by the heat of close stove 
rooms, by warm clothing, and by the peculiar nature of the ali- 
ment of the Greenlanders, which consists chiefly of animal food, 
of dried fish, and of whale oil. They prefer the last of those 
articles in so rancid a state, that it imparts a foetor to their per- 
spiration which, Mr. Crantz says, renders even their churches 
offensive to strangers. I need hardly add, that a diet possessed of 
such diffusible qualities, cannot fail of being highly stimulating. 
It is remarkable that the food of all the northern nations of 
Europe is composed of stimulating animal, or vegetable matters, 
and that the use of spiritous liquors is universal among them. 

IV. Let us next turn our eyes to the miserable inhabitants 
of those eastern countries which compose the Ottoman empire. 
Here we behold life in its most feeble state, not only from the 
absence of physical, but of other stimuli which operate upon the 
inhabitants of other parts of the world. Among the poor people 
of Turkey there is a general deficiency of aliment. Mr. Volney 
in his travels tells us "That the diet of the Bedouins seldom 
exceeds six ounces a day, and that it consists of six or seven dates 



1 66 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

soaked in butter-milk, and afterwards mixed with a little sweet 
milk, or curds." Thfere is likewise a general deficiency among 
them of stimulus, from the operations of the mental faculties; 
for such is the despotism of the government in Turkey, that it 
weakens not only the understanding; but it annihilates all that 
immense source of stimuli which arises from the exercise of the 
domestic and public affections. A Turk lives wholly to himself. 
In point of time, he occupies only the moment in which he 
exists; for his futurity, as to life and property, belongs altogether 
to his master. Fear is the reigning principle of his actions, and 
hope and joy seldom add a single pulsation to his heart. Tyranny 
even imposes a restraint upon the stimulus which arises from 
conversation, for "They speak (says Mr. Volney) with a slow 
feeble voice, as if the lungs wanted strength to propel air enough 
through the glottis to form distinct articulate sounds." The same 
traveller adds, that "They are slow in all their motions, that their 
bodies are small, that they have small evacuations, and that their 
blood is so destitute of ferocity, that nothing but the greatest 
heat can preserve its fluidity." The deficiency of aliment, and 
the absence of mental stimuli in these people is supplied, 

1. By the heat of their climate. 

2. By their passion for musical sounds and fine clothes, and 

3. By their general use of coffee and opium. 

The more debilitated the body is, the more forcibly these 
stimuli act upon it. Hence according to Mr. Volney, the 
Bedouins, whose slender diet has been mentioned, enjoy good 
health; for this consists not in strength, but in an exact propor- 
tion being kept up between the excitability of the body, and 
the number and force of the stimuli which act upon it. 

V. Many of the observations which have been made upon 
the inhabitants of Africa, and of the Turkish dominions, apply 
to the inhabitants of China, and the East Indies. They want in 
many instances the stimulus of animal food. Their minds are 
moreover in a state too languid to act with much force upon their 
bodies. The absence and deficiency of these stimuli are sup- 
plied by, 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 167 

1. The heat of the climate in the southern parts of those 
countries. 

2. By a vegetable diet abounding in nourishment, particularly 
rice and beans. 

3. By the use of tea in China, and by a stimulating coffee 
made of the dried and toasted feeds of the datura stramonium, in 
the neighbourhood of the -Indian coast. Some of these nations 
likewise chew stimulating substances, as too many of our citizens 
do tobacco. 

Among the poor and depressed subjects of the governments 
of the middle and southern parts of Europe, the deficiency of 
the stimulus of wholesome food, of clothing, of fuel, and of 
liberty, is supplied in some countries by the invigorating in- 
fluence of the Christian religion upon animal life; and in others, 
by the general use of tea, coffee, garlic, onions, opium, tobacco, 
malt liquors, and ardent spirits. The use of each of these stimuli 
seems to be regulated by the circumstances of climate. In cold 
countries where the earth yields its increase with reluctance, 
and where vegetable aliment is scarce, the want of the stimulus 
of distention which that species of food is principally calculated 
to produce, is sought for in that, of ardent spirits. To the south- 
ward of 40 a substitute for the distention from mild vegetable 
food is sought for, in onions, garlic and tobacco. But further, a 
uniform climate calls for more of these artificial stimuli than a 
climate that is exposed to the alternate action of heat and cold, 
winds and calms, and of wet and dry weather. Savages and igno- 
rant people likewise require more of them than persons of civi- 
lized manners, and cultivated understandings. It would seem from 
these facts that man cannot exist without sensation of some kind, 
and that when it is not derived from natural means, it will always 
be sought for in such as are artificial. 

In no part of the human species, is animal life in a more 
perfect state than in the inhabitants of Great Britain,* and the 
United States of America. With all the natural stimuli that have 

* Haller's Elementa Physiologiae, vol. viii. p. 2. p. 107. 



i68 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

been mentioned, they are constantly under the invigorating in- 
fluence of liberty. There is an indissoluble union between moral, 
political and physical happiness; and if it be true, that elective 
and representative governments are most favourable to individual, 
as well as national prosperity, it follows of course, that they are 
most favourable to animal life. But this opinion does not rest upon 
an induction derived from the relation, which truths upon all 
subjects bear to each other. Many facts prove, animal life to 
exist in a larger quantity and for a longer time, in the enlight- 
ened and happy state of Connecticut, in which republican liberty 
has existed above one hundred and fifty years, than in any other 
country upon the surface of the globe. 

It remains now to mention certain mental stimuli which act 
nearly alike in the production of animal life, upon the individuals 
of all the nations in the world. They are, 

i. The desire of life. This principle so deeply, and universally 
implanted in human nature, acts very powerfully in supporting 
our existence. It has been observed to prolong life. Sickly travel- 
lers by sea and land, often live under circumstances of the great- 
est weakness, till they reach their native country, and then expire 
in the bosom of their friends. This desire of life often turns the 
scale in favor of a recovery in acute diseases. Its influence will 
appear, from the difference in the periods in which death was 
induced in two persons, who were actuated by opposite passions 
with respect to life. Atticus, we are told, died of voluntary ab- 
stinence from food in five days. In Sir William Hamilton's ac- 
count of the earthquake at Calabria, we read of a girl who lived 
eleven days without food, before she expired. In the former 
case, life was shortened by an aversion from it; in the latter, it 
was protracted by the desire af it. The late Mr. Brissot in his 
visit to this city, informed me that the application of animal 
magnetism (in which he was a believer) had in no instance cured 
a disease in a West India slave. Perhaps it was rendered inert by 
its not being accompanied by a strong desire of life; for this 
principle exists in a more feeble state in slaves than in freemen. 
It is possible likewise the wills and imaginations of these degraded 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 169 

people may have become so paralytic by slavery, as to be in- 
capable of being excited by the impression of this fanciful 
remedy. 

2. The love of money sets the whole animal machine in 
motion. Hearts which are insensible to the stimuli of religion, 
patriotism, love, and even of the domestic affections, are excited 
into action by this passion. The city of Philadelphia between 
the loth and ijth of August 1791, will long be remembered 
by contemplative men, for having furnished the most extraordi- 
nary proofs of the stimulus of the love of money upon the human 
body. A new scene of speculation was produced at that time by 
the scrip of the bank of the United States. It excited febrile 
diseases in three persons who became my patients. In one of 
them, the acquisition of twelve thousand dollars in a few min- 
utes by a lucky sale, brought on madness which terminated in 
death in a few days.* The whole city felt the impulse of this 
paroxysm of avarice. The slow and ordinary means of earning 
money were deserted, and men of every profession and trade, 
were seen in all our streets hastening to the coffee house, where 
the agitation of countenance, and the desultory manners, of all 
the persons who were interested in this species of gaming, ex- 
hibited a truer picture of a bedlam, than of a place appropriated 
to the transaction of mercantile business. But further, the love 
of money discovers its stimulus upon the body in a peculiar 
manner in the games of cards and dice. I have heard of a gentle- 
man in Virginia who passed two whole days and nights in suc- 
cession at a card table, and it is related in the life of a noted 
gamester in Ireland, that when he was so ill as to be unable to rise 
from his chair, he would suddenly revive when brought to the 
hazard table, by hearing the rattling of the dice. 

3. Public amusements of all kinds, such as a horse race, a 
cockpit, a chase, the theatre, the circus, masquerades, public 
dinners and tea parties, all exert an artificial stimulus upon the 

* Dr. Mead relates upon the authority of Dr. Hales, that more of the 
successful speculators in the South Sea Scheme of 1720 became insane, 
than of those who had been ruined by it. 



1 7 o SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

system, and thus supply the defect of the rational exercises of 
the mind. 

4. The love of dress is not confined in its stimulating opera- 
tion to persons in health. It acts perceptibly in some cases upon 
invalids. I have heard of a gentleman in South Carolina, who 
always relieved himself of a fit of low spirits by changing his 
dress; and I believe there are few people who do not feel them- 
selves enlivened, by putting on a new suit of clothes. 

5. Novelty is an immense source of agreeable stimuli. Com- 
panions, studies, pleasures, modes of business, prospects, and 
situations with respect to town, and country, or to different 
countries, that are new, all exert an invigorating influence upon 
health and life. 

6. The love of fame acts in various ways; but its stimulus is 
most sensible and durable in military life. It counteracts in many 
instances the debilitating effects of hunger, cold and labor. It 
has sometimes done more, by removing the weakness which is 
connected with many diseases. In several instances it has assisted 
the hardships of a camp life, in curing pulmonary consump- 
tion. 

7. The love of country is a deep seated principle of action 
in the human breast. Its stimulus is sometimes so excessive, as to 
induce disease in persons who recently migrate, and settle in 
foreign countries. It appears in various forms; but exists most 
frequently in the solicitude, labors, attachments, and hatred of 
party spirit. All these act forcibly in supporting animal life. It 
is because newspapers are supposed to contain the measure of 
the happiness, or misery of our country, that they are so in- 
teresting to all classes of people. Those vehicles of intelligence, 
and of public pleasure or pain, are frequently desired with the 
impatience of a meal, and they often produce the same stimu- 
lating effects upon the body. 

8. The different religions of the world, by the activity they 
excite in the mind, have a sensible influence upon human life. 
Atheism is the worst of sedatives to the understanding, and pas- 
sions. It is the abstraction of thought from the most sublime, 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 171 

and of love, from the most perfect of all possible objects. Man 
is as naturally a religious, as he is a social, and domestic animal; 
and the same violence is done to his mental faculties, by robbing 
him of a belief in a God, that is done, by dooming him to live 
in a cell, deprived of the objects and pleasures of social and 
domestic life. The necessary and immutable connection between 
the texture of the human mind, and the worship of an object 
of some kind, has lately been demonstrated by the atheists of 
Europe, who after rejecting the true God, have instituted the 
worship of nature, of fortune, and of human reason; and in 
some instances, with ceremonies of the most expensive and splen- 
did kind. Religions are friendly to animal life, in proportion as 
they elevate the understanding, and act upon the passions of hope 
and love. It will readily occur to you, that Christianity when 
believed, and obeyed, according to its original consistency with 
itself, and with the divine attributes, is more calculated to pro- 
duce those effects, than any other religion in the world. Such 
is the salutary operation of its doctrines, and precepts upon 
health and life, that if its divine authority rested upon no other 
argument, this alone would be sufficient to recommend it to our 
belief. How long mankind may continue to prefer substituted 
pursuits and pleasures, to this invigorating stimulus, is uncertain; 
but the time we are assured will come, when the understanding 
shall be elevated from its present inferior objects, and the luxated 
passions be reduced to their original order. This change in the 
mind of man, I believe, will be effected only by the influence 
of the Christian religion, after all the efforts of human reason 
to produce it, by means of civilization, philosophy, liberty, and 
government, have been exhausted to no purpose. 

Thus far, gentlemen, we have considered animal life as it 
respects the human species; but the principles I am endeavouring 
to establish, require that we should take a view of it in animals 
of every species, in all of which we shall find it depends upon 
the same causes, as in the human body. 

And here I shall begin by remarking, that if we should dis- 
cover the stimuli which support life in certain animals, to be 



1 72 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

fewer in number, or weaker in force than those which support 
it in our species; we must resolve it into that attribute of the 
Deity which seems to have delighted in variety in all his works. 
The following observations apply more or less, to all the 
animals upon our globe. 

1. They all possess either hearts, lungs, brains, nerves, or 
muscular fibres. It is as yet a controversy among naturalists 
whether animal life can exist without a brain; but no one has 
denied, muscular fibres, and of course contractility, or excita- 
bility to belong to animal life in all its shapes. 

2. They all require more or less air for their existence. Even 
the snail inhales it for seven months under ground, through a 
pellicle which it weaves out of slime, as a covering for its body. 
If this pellicle at any time become too thick to admit the air; 
the snail opens a passage in it for that purpose/Now air we 
know acts powerfully in supporting animal life. 

3. Many of them possess heat equal to that of the human 
body. Birds possess several degrees beyond it. Now heat, it was 
said formerly, acts with great force, in the production of animal 
life. 

4. They all feed upon substances more or less stimulating to 
their bodies. Even water itself, chemistry has taught us, affords 
an aliment not only stimulating, but nourishing to many ani- 
mals. 

5. Many of them possess senses, more acute and excitable, 
than the same organs in the human species. These expose surfaces 
for the action of external impressions, that supply the absence, 
or deficiency of mental faculties. 

6. Such of them as are devoid of sensibility, possess an un- 
common portion of contractility, or simple excitability. This is 
most evident in the Polypus. When cut to pieces, it appears to 
feel little or no pain. 

7. They all possess locomotive powers in a greater or less 
degree, and of course are acted upon by the stimulus of mus- 
cular motion. 

8. Most of them appear to feel a stimulus, from the gratifica- 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 173 

tion of their appetites for food, and for venereal pleasures, far 
more powerful than that which is felt by our species from the 
same causes. I shall hereafter mention some facts from Spalanzani 
upon the subject of generation, that will prove the stimulus, from 
venery, to be strongest in those animals, in which other stimuli 
act with the least force. Thus the male frog during its long con- 
nection with its female, suffers its limbs to be amputated, with- 
out discovering the least mark of pain, and without relaxing its 
hold of the object of its embraces. 

9. In many animals we behold evident marks of understand- 
ing, and passion. The elephant, the fox and the ant, exhibit strong 
proofs of thought; and where is the school boy that cannot bear 
testimony to the anger of the bee, and the wasp? 

10. But what shall we say of those animals, which pass long 
winters in a state in which there is an apparent absence of the 
stimuli of heat, exercise and the motion of the blood. Life in these 
animals is probably supported, 

1 . By such an accumulation of excitability, 3s to yield to im- 
pressions, which to us are imperceptible. 

2. By the stimulus of aliment in a state of digestion in the 
stomach, or by the stimulus of aliment restrained from digestion 
by means of cold; for Mr. John Hunter has proved by an ex- 
periment on a frog, that cold below a certain degree, checks that 
animal process. 

3. By the constant action of air upon their bodies. 

It is possible life may exist in these animals, during their 
hybernation, in the total absence of impression and motion of 
every kind. This may be the case where the torpor from cold, 
has been suddenly brought upon their bodies. Excitability here, 
is in an accumulated, but quiescent state. 

1 1. It remains only under this head to inquire; in what man- 
ner is life supported in those animals which live in a cold element, 
and whose blood is sometimes but a little above the freezing 
point? It will be a sufficient answer to this question to remark, 
that heat and cold are relative terms, and that different animals 
according to their organization, require very different degrees 



i 7 4 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

of heat for their existence. Thirty-two degrees of it are probably 
as stimulating to some of these cold blooded animals (as they 
are called) as 70, or 80 are to the human body. 

It might afford additional support to the doctrine of animal 
life, which I have delivered, to point out the manner in which 
life and growth are produced in vegetables of all kinds. But this 
subject belongs to the professor of botany, and natural history,* 
who is amply qualified to do it justice. I shall only remark, that 
vegetable life is as much the offspring of stimuli as animal, and 
that skill in agriculture consists chiefly in the proper application 
of them. The seed of a plant, like an animal body, has no prin- 
ciple of life within itself. If preserved for years in a drawer, or 
in earth below the stimulating influence of heat, air and water, 
it discovers no sign of vegetation. It grows, like an animal, only 
in consequence of stimuli acting upon its capacity of life. 

From a review of what has been said of animal life in all its 
numerous forms and modifications; we see that it is as much an 
effect of impressions upon a peculiar species of matter, as sound 
is of the stroke of a hammer upon a bell, or music, of the motion 
of the bow upon the strings of a violin. I exclude therefore the 
intelligent principle of Whytt, the medical mind of Stahl, the 
healing powers of Cullen, and the vital principle of John Hunter, 
as much from the body, as I do an intelligent principle from air, 
fire, and water. 

It is no uncommon thing for the simplicity of causes, to be 
lost in the magnitude of their effects. By contemplating the 
wonderful functions of life, we have strangely overlooked the 
numerous and obscure circumstances which produce it. Thus 
the humble but true origin of power in the people, is often 
forgotten in the splendor and pride of governments. It is not 
necessary to be acquainted with the precise nature of that form 
of matter, which is capable of producing life, from impressions 
made upon it. It is sufficient for our purpose, to know the fact. 
It is immaterial moreover whether this matter derive its power 

* Dr. Barton. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 175 

of being acted upon wholly from the brain, or whether it be in 
part inherent in animal fibres. The inferences are the same in 
favour of life being the effect of stimuli, and of its being as 
truly mechanical, as the movements of a clock from the pressure 
of its weights, or the passage of a ship in the water, from the 
impulse of winds, and tide. 

The infinity of effects from similar causes, has often been 
taken notice of in the works of the Creator. It would seem as 
if they had all been made after one pattern. The late discovery 
of the cause of combustion, has thrown great light upon our 
subject. Wood and coal are no longer believed to contain a 
principle of fire. The heat and flames they emit, are derived from 
an agent altogether external to them. They are produced by a 
matter which is absorbed from the air, by means of its decomposi- 
tion. This matter acts upon the predisposition of the fuel to 
receive it, in the same way that stimuli act upon the human 
body. The two agents differ only in their effects. The former 
produces the destruction of the bodies upon which it acts; while 
the latter excite the more gentle, and durable motions of life. 
Common language in expressing these effects is correct, as far 
as it relates to their cause. We speak of a coal of fire being alive, 
and of the flcmie of life. 

The causes of life which I have delivered, will receive con- 
siderable support, by contrasting them with the causes of death. 
This catastrophe of the body consists in such a change induced 
on it by disease, or old age, as to prevent its exhibiting the 
phenomena of life. It is brought on, 

1. By the abstraction of all the stimuli which support life. 
Death, from this cause, is produced by the same mechanical 
means that the emission of sound from a violin is prevented by 
the abstraction of the bow from its strings. 

2. By the excessive force of stimuli of all kinds. No more 
occurs here than happens from too much pressure upon the 
strings of a violin preventing its emitting musical tones. 

3. By too much relaxation, or too weak a texture of the matter 
which composes the human body. No more occurs here than is 



176 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

observed in the extinction of sound by the total relaxation, or 
slender combination of the strings of a violin. 

4. By an error in the place of certain fluid, or solid parts 
of the body. No more occurs here, than would happen from 
fixing the strings of a violin upon its body, instead of elevating 
them upon its bridge. 

5. By the action of poisonous exhalations, or of certain fluids 
vitiated in the body, upon parts which emit most forcibly the 
motions of life. No more happens here than occurs from envelop- 
ing the strings of a violin in a piece of wax. 

6. By the solution of continuity by means of wounds in 
solid parts of the body. No more occurs in death from this cause, 
than takes place when the emission of sound from a violin is 
prevented by a rupture of its strings. 

7. Death is produced by a preternatural rigidity, and in some 
instances by an ossification of the solid parts of the body in old 
age; in consequence of which they are incapable of receiving and 
emitting the motions of life. No more occurs here", than would 
happen if a stick, or pipe-stem were placed in the room of 
catgut, upon the bridges of the violin. But death may take place 
in old age without a change in the texture of animal matter, from 
the stimuli of life losing their effect by repetition, just as opium 
from the same cause, ceases to produce its usual effects upon the 
body. 

Should it be asked, what is that peculiar organization of 
matter, which enables it to emit life, when acted upon by stimuli, 
I answer, I do not know. The great Creator has kindly estab- 
lished a witness of his unsearchable wisdom in every part of his 
works, in order to prevent our forgetting him, in the successful 
exercises of our reason. Mohammed once said "that he should 
believe himself to be a God, if he could bring down rain from 
the clouds, or give life to an animal." It belongs exclusively to 
the true God to endow matter with those singular properties, 
which enable it under certain circumstances, to exhibit the ap- 
pearances of life. 

I cannot conclude this subject, without taking notice of its 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 177 

extensive application to medicine, metaphysics, theology and 
morals. 

The doctrine of animal life which has been taught, exhibits 
in the 

First place, a new view of the nervous system, by discovering 
its origin in the extremities of the nerves on which impressions 
are made, and its termination in the brain. This idea is extended 
in an ingenious manner by Mr. Valli in his treatise upon animal 
electricity. 

2. It discovers to us the true means of promoting health and 
longevity, by proportioning the number and force of stimuli to 
the age, climate, situation, habits and temperament of the human 
body. 

3. It leads us to a knowledge of the causes of all diseases. 
These consist in excessive, or preternatural excitement in the 
whole, or a part of the human body, accompanied generally with 
irregular motions, and induced by natural, or artificial stimuli. 
The latter have been called very properly by Mr. Hunter irri- 
tants. The occasional absence of motion in acute diseases, 
is the effect only of the excess of impetus in their remote 
causes. 

4. It discovers to us that the cure of all diseases depends 
simply upon the abstraction of stimuli from the whole, or from 
a part of the body, when the motions excited by them, are in 
excess; and in the increase of their number and force, when 
motions are of a moderate nature. For the former purpose, we 
employ a class of medicines known by the name of sedatives. 
For the latter, we make use of stimulants. Under these two ex- 
tensive heads, are included all the numerous articles of the 
Materia Medica. 

5. It enables us to reject the doctrine of innate ideas, and to 
ascribe all our knowledge of sensible objects to impressions act- 
ing upon an innate capacity to receive ideas. Were it possible 
for a child to grow up to manhood without the use of any of its 
senses, it would not possess a single idea of a material object; 
and as all human knowledge is compounded of simple ideas, this 



i 7 8 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

person would be as destitute of knowledge of every kind, as the 
grossest portion of vegetable, or fossil matter. 

6. The account which has been given of animal life, fur- 
nishes a striking illustration of the origin of human actions, by 
the impression of motives upon the will. As well might we admit 
an inherent principle of life in animal matter, as a self determin- 
ing power in this faculty of the mind. Motives are necessary not 
only to constitute its freedom, but its essence; for without them, 
there could be no more a will than there could be vision without 
light, or hearing without sound. It is true, they are often so 
obscure as not to be perceived; and they sometimes become in- 
sensible from habit, but the same things have been remarked in 
the operation of stimuli; and yet we do not upon this account 
deny their agency in producing animal life. In thus deciding in 
favor of the necessity of motives, to produce actions, I cannot 
help bearing a testimony against the gloomy misapplication of 
this doctrine by some modern writers. When properly under- 
stood, it is calculated to produce the most comfortable views of 
the divine government, and the most beneficial effects upon 
morals, and human happiness. 

7. There are errors of an impious nature, which sometimes 
obtain a currency, from being disguised by innocent names. 
The doctrine of animal life that has been delivered, is directly 
opposed to an error of this kind, which has had the most bane- 
ful influence upon morals and religion. To suppose a principle 
to reside necessarily, and constantly in the human body, which 
acted independently of external circumstances, is to ascribe to it 
an attribute, which I shall not connect, even in language, with 
the creature man. Self existence belongs only to God. 

The best criterion of the truth of a philosophical opinion, is 
its tendency to produce exalted ideas, of the Divine Being, and 
humble views of ourselves. The doctrine of animal life which 
has been delivered, is calculated to produce these effects in an 
eminent degree, for 

8. It does homage to the Supreme Being, as the governor of 
the universe, and establishes the certainty of his universal, and 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 179 

particular providence. Admit a principle of life in the human 
body, and we open a door for the restoration of the old Epi- 
curean or atheistical philosophy, which supposed the world to 
be governed by a principle called nature, and which was believed 
to be inherent in every kind of matter. The doctrine I have 
taught, cuts the sinews of this error; for by rendering the con- 
tinuance of animal life, no less than its commencement, the effect 
of the constant operation of divine power and goodness, it leads 
us to believe that the whole creation is supported in the same 
manner. 

9. The view that has been given of the dependent state of 
man for the blessing of life, leads us to contemplate with very 
opposite and inexpressible feelings, the sublime idea which is 
given of the Deity in the scriptures, as possessing life "within 
himself." This divine prerogative has never been imparted but to 
one being, and that is, the Son of God. This appears from the 
following declaration. "For as the Father hath life in himself, 
so hath he given to the Son to have life within himself" * To 
his plenitude of independent life, we are to ascribe his being 
called the "life of the world," "the prince of life," and "life" 
itself, in the New Testament. These divine epithets which are 
very properly, founded upon the manner of our Saviour's ex- 
istence, exalt him infinitely above simple humanity, and establish 
his divine nature upon the basis of reason, as well as revelation. 

10. We have heard that some of the stimuli which produce 
animal life, are derived from the moral, and physical evils of our 
world. From beholding these instruments of death thus con- 
verted by divine skill into the means of life, we are led to believe 
goodness to be the supreme attribute of the Deity, and that it 
will appear finally to predominate in all his works. 

n. The doctrine which has been delivered, is calculated to 
humble the pride of man; by teaching him his constant depend- 
ence upon his Maker for his existence, and that he has no pre- 
eminence in his tenure of it, over the meanest insect that flutters 

* John v. verse 26. 



i8o SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

in the air, or the humblest plant that grows upon the earth. What 
an inspired writer says of the innumerable animals which inhabit 
the ocean, may with equal propriety be said of the whole human 
race. "Thou sendest forth thy spirit, and they are created. Thou 
takest away their breath they die, and return to their dust." 

12. Melancholy indeed would have been the issue of all our 
inquiries, did we take a final leave of the human body in its 
state of decomposition in the grave. Revelation furnishes us with 
an elevating, and comforable assurance that this will not be the 
case. The precise manner of its re-organizatioft, and the new 
means of its future existence, are unknown to us. It is sufficient 
to believe, the event will take place, and that after it, the soul 
and body of man will be exalted in one respect, to an equality 
with their Creator. They will be immortal. 

Here, gentlemen, we close the history of animal life. I feel 
as if I had waded across a rapid and dangerous stream. Whether 
I have gained the opposite shore with my head clean, or covered 
with mud and weeds, I leave wholly to your determination. 



THE INFLUENCE OF 

PHYSICAL CAUSES UPON 

THE MORAL FACULTY 



BY THE moral faculty I mean a capacity in the human mind of 
distinguishing and choosing good and evil, or, in other words, 
virtue and vice. It is a native principle, and though it be capable 
of improvement by experience and reflection, it is not derived 
from either of them. St. Paul and Cicero give us the most perfect 
account of it that is to be found in modern or ancient authors. 
"For when the Gentiles (says St. Paul,) which have not the law, 
do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not 
the law, are a law unto themselves; which show the works of the 
law written in their hearts, their consciences also, bearing wit- 
ness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing, or else ex- 
cusing, another." ' 

The words of Cicero are as follow: "Est igitur haec, judices, 
non scripta, sed nata lex, quam non didicimus, accepimus, legimus, 
verum ex natura ipsa arripuimus, hausimus, expressimus, ad quam 
non docti, sed facti, non instituti, sed imbuti surnus." f This 
faculty is often confounded with conscience, which is a distinct 
and independent capacity of the mind. This is evident from the 
passage quoted from the writings of St. Paul, in which con- 
science is said to be the witness that accuses or excuses us, of a 
breach of the law written in our hearts. The moral faculty is 
what the schoolmen call the "regula regulans;" the conscience 
is their "regula regulata;" or, to speak in more modern terms, 
the moral faculty performs the office of a lawgiver, while the 

* Rom. i. 14, 15. t Oratio pro Milone. 

181 



1 82 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

business of conscience is to perform the duty of a judge. The 
moral faculty is to the conscience, what taste is to the, judgment, 
and sensation to perception. It is quick in its operations, and like 
the sensitive plant, acts without reflection, while conscience fol- 
lows with deliberate steps, and measures all her actions by the 
unerring square of right and wrong. The moral faculty exercises 
itself upon the actions of others. It approves, even in books, of 
the virtues of a Trajan, and disapproves of the vices of a Marius, 
while conscience confines its operations only to its own actions. 
These two capacities of the mind are generally in an exact ratio 
to each other, but they sometimes exist in different degrees in 
the same person. Hence we often find conscience in its full 
vigour, with a diminished tone, or total absence of the moral 
faculty. 

It has long been a question among metaphysicians, whether 
the conscience be seated in the will or in the understanding. The 
controversy can only be settled by admitting the will to be the 
seat of the moral faculty, and the' understanding to be the seat 
of the conscience. The mysterious nature of the union of those 
two moral principles with the will and understanding is a subject 
foreign to the business of the present inquiry. 

As I consider virtue and vice to consist in action, and not in 
opinion, and as this action has its seat in the itf/7/, and not in the 
conscience, I shall confine my inquiries chiefly to the influence 
of physical causes upon that moral power of the mind, which is 
connected with volition, although many of these causes act like- 
wise upon the conscience, as I shall show hereafter. The state 
of the moral faculty is visible in actions, which affect the well- 
being of society. The state of the conscience is invisible, and 
therefore removed beyond our investigation. 

The moral faculty has received different names from differ- 
ent authors. It is the "moral sense" of Dr. Hutchison; "the sym- 
pathy" of Dr. Adam Smith; the "moral instinct" of Rousseau; 
and "the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the 
world" of St. John. I have adopted the term of moral faculty 
from Dr. Beattie, because I conceive it conveys, with the most 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 183 

perspicuity, the idea of a capacity in the mind of choosing good 
and evil. 

Our books of medicine contain many records of the effects of 
physical causes upon the memory, the imagination, and the judg- 
ment. In some instances we behold their operation only on one, 
in others on two, and in many cases, upon the whole of these 
faculties. Their derangement has received different names, ac- 
cording to the number or nature of the faculties that are affected. 
The loss of memory has been called "amnesia;" false judgment 
upon one subject has been called "melancholia;" false judgment 
upon all subjects has been called "mania;" and a defect of all the 
three intellectual faculties that have been mentioned has received 
the name of "amentia." Persons who labour under the derange- 
ment, or want, of these faculties of the mind, are considered, 
very properly, as subjects of medicine; and there are many cases 
upon record, that prove that their diseases have yielded to the 
healing art. 

In order to illustrate the effects of physical causes upon the 
moral faculty, it will be necessary first to show their effects upon 
the memory, the imagination, and the judgment; and at the same 
time to point out the analogy between their operation upon the 
intellectual faculties of the mind and the moral faculty. 

1 . Do we observe a connection between the intellectual fac- 
ulties and the degrees of consistency and firmness of the brain 
in infancy and childhood? The same connection has been ob- 
served between the strength, as well as the progress, of the moral 
faculty in children. 

2. Do we observe a certain size of the brain, and a peculiar 
cast of features, such as the prominent eye, and the aquiline nose, 
to be connected with extraordinary portions of genius? We ob- 
serve a similar connection between the figure and temperament 
of the body and certain moral qualities. Hence we often ascribe 
good temper and benevolence to corpulency, and irascibility to 
sanguineous habits. Caesar thought himself safe in the friendship 
of the "sleek-headed" Anthony and Dolabella, but was afraid 
to trust to the professions of the slender Cassius. 



1 84 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

3. Do we observe certain degrees of the intellectual faculties 
to be hereditary in certain families? The same observation has 
been frequently extended to moral qualities. Hence we often 
find certain virtues and vices as peculiar to families, through all 
their degrees of consanguinity and duration, as a peculiarity of 
voice, complexion, or shape. 

4. Do we observe instances of a total want of memory, 
imagination, and judgment, either from an original defect in the 
stamina of the brain, or from the influence of physical causes? 
The same unnatural defect is sometimes observed, and probably 
from the same causes, of a moral faculty. The celebrated Servin, 
whose character is drawn by the Duke of Sully, in his Memoirs, 
appears to be an instance of the total absence of the moral faculty, 
while the chasm produced by this defect, seems ^ to have been 
filled up by a more than common extension of every other power 
of his mind. I beg leave to repeat the history of this prodigy 
of vice and knowledge. "Let the reader represent to himself a 
man of a genius so lively, and of an understanding so extensive, 
as rendered him scarce ignorant of any thing that could be 
known; of so vast and ready a comprehension, that he imme- 
diately made himself master of whatever he attempted; and of so 
prodigious a memory, that he never forgot what he once learned. 
He possessed all parts of philosophy, and the mathematics, par- 
ticularly fortification and drawing. Even in theology he was so 
well skilled, that he was an excellent preacher, whenever he had 
a mind to exert that talent, and an able disputant for and against 
the reformed religion, indifferently. He not only understood 
Greek, Hebrew, and all the languages which we call learned, 
but also all the different jargons, or modern dialects. He accented 
and pronounced them so naturally, and so perfectly imitated the 
gestures and manners both of the several nations of Europe, and 
the particular provinces of France, that he might have been 
taken for a native of all, or any, of these countries: and this 
quality he applied to counterfeit all sorts of persons, wherein he 
succeeded wonderfully. He was, moreover, the best comedian, 
and the greatest droll that perhaps ever appeared. He had a 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 185 

genius for poetry, and had wrote many verses. He played upon 
almost all instruments, was a perfect master of music, and sang 
most agreeably and justly. He likewise could say mass, for he 
was of a disposition to do, as well as to know, all things. His 
body was perfectly well suited to his mind. He was light, nimble, 
and dexterous, and fit for all exercises. He could ride well, and 
in dancing, wrestling, and leaping, he was admired. There are 
not any recreative games that he did not know, and he was 
skilled in almost all mechanic arts. But now for the reverse of 
the medal. Here it appeared, that he was treacherous, cruel, 
cowardly, deceitful, a liar, a cheat, a drunkard, and a glutton, 
a sharper in play, immersed in every species of vice, a blasphemer, 
an atheist. In a word, in him might be found all the vices that 
are contrary to nature, honour, religion, and society, the truth 
of which he himself evinced with his latest breath; for he died 
in the flower of his age, in a common brothel, perfectly cor- 
rupted by his debaucheries, and expired with the glass, in his 
hand, cursing and denying God." * 

It was probably a state of the human mind such as has been 
described, that our Saviour alluded to in the disciple who was 
about to betray him, when he called him "a devil." Perhaps the 
essence of depravity, in infernal spirits, consists in their being 
wholly devoid of a moral faculty. In them the will has probably 
lost the power of choosing, f as well as the capacity of enjoying 
moral good. It is true, we read of their trembling in a belief of 
the existence of a God, and of their anticipating future punish- 
ment, by asking whether they were to be tormented before their 
time: but this is the effect of conscience, and hence arises another 
argument in favour of this judicial power of the mind being dis- 
tinct from the moral faculty. It would seem as if the Supreme 
Being had preserved the moral faculty in man from the ruins of 

* Vol. iii. p. 216, 217. 

t Milton seems to have been of this opinion. Hence, after ascribing 
repentance to Satan, he makes him declare, 

"Farewell remorse; all good to me is lost, 

Evil, be thou my good" 

PARADISE LOST, Book IV. 



1 86 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

his fall, on purpose to guide him back again to Paradise, and at 
the same time had constituted the conscience, both in men and 
fallen spirits, a kind of royalty in his moral empire, on purpose 
to show his property in all intelligent creatures, and their original 
resemblance to himself. Perhaps the essence of moral depravity 
in man consists in a total, but temporary, suspension of the power 
of conscience. Persons in this situation are emphatically said in 
the Scriptures to "be past feeling," and to have their consciences 
seared with a "hot iron;" they are likewise said to be "twice 
dead," that is, the same torpor, or moral insensibility, has seized 
both the moral faculty and the conscience. 

5. Do we ever observe instances of the existence of only one 
of the three intellectual powers of the mind that have been 
named, in the absence of the other two? We observe something 
of the same kind with respect to the moral faculty. I once knew 
a man, who discovered no one mark of reason, who possessed the 
moral sense or faculty in so high a degree, that he spent his whole 
life in acts of benevolence. He was not only inoffensive (which 
is not always the case with idiots), but he was kind and affec- 
tionate to every body. Fie had no ideas of time, but what were 
suggested to him by the returns of the stated periods for public 
worship, in which he appeared to take great delight. He spent 
several hours of every day in devotion, in which he was so careful 
to be private, that he was once found in the most improbable 
place in the world for that purpose, viz. in an oven. 

6. Do we observe the memory, the imagination, and the 
judgment to be affected by diseases, particularly by madness? 
Where is the physician, who has not seen the moral faculty 
affected from the same causes! How often do we see the temper 
wholly changed by a fit of sickness! And how often do we hear 
persons of the most delicate virtue utter speeches, in the delirium 
of a fever, that are offensive to decency or good manners! I have 
heard a well-attested history of a clergyman of the most ex- 
emplary moral character, who spent the last moments of a fever, 
which deprived him both of his reason and his life, in profane 
cursing and swearing. I once attended a young woman in a 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 187 

nervous fever, who discovered, after her recovery, a loss of her 
former habit of veracity. Her memory (a defect of which might 
be suspected of being the cause of this vice), was in every respect 
as perfect as it was before the attack of the fever.* The instances 
of immorality in maniacs, who were formerly distinguished for 
the opposite character, are so numerous, and well known, that 
it will not be necessary to select any cases, to establish the truth 
of the proposition contained under this head. 

7. Do we observe any of the three intellectual faculties that 
have been named enlarged by diseases? Patients in the delirium 
of a fever, often discover extraordinary flights of imagination, 
and madmen often astonish us with their wonderful acts of mem- 
ory. The same enlargement, sometimes, appears in the operations 
of the moral faculty. I have more than once heard the most sub- 
lime discourses of morality in the cell of a hospital, and who 
has not seen instances of patients in acute diseases discovering 
degrees of benevolence and integrity, that were not natural to 
them in the ordinary course of their lives? f 

8. Do we ever observe a partial insanity, or false perception 
on one subject, while the judgment is sound and correct, upon all 
others? We perceive, in some instances, a similar defect in the 
moral faculty. There are persons who are moral in the highest 
degree as to certain duties, who nevertheless live under the in- 
fluence of some one vice. I knew an instance of a woman, who 
was exemplary in her obedience to every command of the moral 
law, except one. She could not refrain from stealing. What made 
this vice the more remarkable was, that she was in easy cif cum- 
stances, and not addicted to extravagance in any thing. Such 
was her propensity to this vice, that when she could lay her 
hands upon nothing more valuable, she would often, at the table 

* I have selected this case from many others which have come under 
my notice, in which the moral faculty appeared to be impaired by dis- 
eases, particularly by the typhus of Dr. Cullen, and by those species of 
palsy which affect the brain. 

fXenophon makes Cyrus declare, in his last moments, "That the 
soul of man, at the hour of death, appears most divine, and then foresees 
something of future events." 



1 88 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

of a friend, fill her pockets secretly with bread. As a proof that 
her judgment was not affected by this defect in her moral fac- 
ulty, she would both confess and lament her crime, when de- 
tected in it. 

9. Do we observe the imagination in many instances to be 
affected with apprehensions of dangers that have no existence? 
In like manner we observe the moral faculty to discover a sen- 
sibility to vice, that is by no means proportioned to its degrees 
of depravity. How often do we see persons labouring under this 
morbid sensibility of the moral faculty refuse to give a direct 
answer to a plain question, that related perhaps only to the 
weather, or to the hour of the day, lest they should wound the 
peace of their minds by telling a falsehood! 

10. Do dreams affect the memory, the imagination, and the 
judgment? Dreams are nothing but incoherent ideas, occasioned 
by partial or imperfect sleep. There is a variety in the suspension 
of the faculties and operations of the mind in this state of the 
system. In some cases the imagination only is deranged in dreams, 
in others the memory is affected, and in others the judgment. 
But there are cases in which the change that is produced in the 
state of the brain, by means of sleep, affects the moral faculty 
likewise; hence we sometimes dream of doing and saying things, 
when asleep, which we shudder at, as soon as we awake. This 
supposed defection from virtue exists frequently in dreams, 
where the memory and judgment are scarcely impaired. It can- 
not therefore be ascribed to an absence of the exercises of those 
two powers of the mind. 

1 1 . Do we read, in the accounts of travellers, of men, who, 
in respect of intellectual capacity and enjoyments, are but a few 
degrees above brutes? We read likewise of a similar degradation 
of our species, in respect to moral capacity and feeling. Here it 
will be necessary to remark, that the low degrees of moral per- 
ception, that have been discovered in certain African and Rus- 
sian tribes of men, no more invalidate our proposition of the 
universal and essential existence of a moral faculty in the human 
mind, than the low state of their intellects prove, that reason 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 189 

is not natural to man. Their perceptions of good and evil are in 
exact proportion to their intellectual faculties. But I will go 
further, and admit, with Mr. Locke, * that some savage nations 
are totally devoid of the moral faculty, yet it will by no means 
follow, that this was the original constitution of their minds. 
The appetite for certain aliments is uniform among all mankind. 
Where is the nation and the individual, in their primitive state 
of health, to whom bread is not agreeable? But if we should find 
savages, or individuals, whose stomachs have been so disordered 
by intemperance as to refuse this simple and wholesome article 
of diet, shall we assert that this was the original constitution of 
their appetites? By no means. As well might we assert, because 
savages destroy their beauty by painting and cutting their faces, 
that the principles of taste do not exist naturally in the human 
mind. It is with virtue as with fire. It exists in the mind, as fire 
does in certain bodies, in a latent or quiescent state. As collision 
renders the one sensible, so education renders the other visible. 
It would be as absurd to maintain, because olives become agree- 
able to many people from habit, that we have no natural appetites 
for any other kind of food, as to assert that any part of the 
human species exist without a moral principle, because in some 
of them it has wanted causes to excite it into action, or has been 
perverted by example. There are appetites that are wholly arti- 
ficial. There are tastes so entirely vitiated, as to perceive beauty 
in deformity. There are torpid and unnatural passions. Why, 
under certain unfavourable circumstances, may there not exist 
also a moral faculty, in a state of sleep, or subject to mistakes? 

The only apology I shall make, for presuming to differ from 
that justly celebrated oracle,f who first unfolded to us a map of 
the intellectual world, shall be, that the eagle eye of genius often 
darts its views beyond the notice of facts, which are accommo- 
dated to the slender organs of perception ot men, who possess 
no other talent than that of observation. 

It is not surprising, that Mr. Locke has confounded this moral 

* Essay concerning the Human Understanding, Book I. chap. 3. 
t Mr. Locke. > 



i 9 o SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

principle with reason, or that Lord Shaftesbury has confounded 
it with taste, since all three of these faculties agree in the objects 
of their approbation, notwithstanding they exist in the mind 
independently of each other. The favourable influence, which 
the progress of science and taste has had upon the morals, can 
be ascribed to nothing else, but to the perfect union that subsist 
in nature between the dictates of reason, of taste, and of the 
moral faculty. Why has the spirit of humanity made such rapid 
progress for some years past in .the courts of Europe? It is be- 
cause kings and their ministers have been taught to reason upon 
philosophical subjects. Why have indecency and profanity been 
banished from the stage in London and Paris? It is because 
immorality is an offence against the highly cultivated taste of the 
French and English nations. 

It must afford great pleasure to the lovers of virtue, to behold 
the depth and extent of this moral principle in the human mind. 
Happily for the human race, the intimations of duty and the 
road to happiness are not left to the slow operations or doubtful 
inductions of reason, nor to the precarious decisions of taste. 
Hence we often find the moral faculty in a state of vigour in 
persons, in whom reason and taste exist in a weak, or in an 
uncultivated state. It is worthy of notice, likewise, that while 
second thoughts are best in matters of judgment, first thoughts 
are always to be preferred in matters that relate to morality. 
Second thoughts, in these cases, are generally parlies between 
duty and corrupted inclinations. Hence Rousseau has justly said, 
that "a well regulated moral instinct is the surest guide to hap- 
piness." 

It must afford equal pleasure to the lovers of virtue to behold, 
that our moral conduct and happiness are not committed to the 
determination of a single legislative power. The conscience, like 
a wise and faithful legislative council, performs the office of a 
check upon the moral faculty, and thus prevents the fatal con- 
sequences of immoral actions. 

An objection, I foresee, will arise to the doctrine of the in- 
fluence of physical causes upon the moral faculty, from its being 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 191 

supposed to favour the opinion of the materiality of the soul. 
But I do not see that this doctrine obliges us to decide upon the 
question of the nature of the soul, any more than the facts which 
prove the influence of physical causes upon the memory, the 
imagination, or the judgment. I shall, however, remark upon 
this subject, that the writers in favour of the iimnortality of the 
soul have done that truth great injury, by connecting it neces- 
sarily with its immateriality. The immortality of the soul depends 
upon the 'will of the Deity, and not upon the supposed properties 
of spirit. Matter is in its own nature as immortal as spirit. It is 
resolvable by heat and mixture into a variety of forms; but it 
requires the same Almighty hand to annihilate it, that it did to 
create it. I know of no arguments to prove the immortality of 
the soul, but such as are derived from the Christian revelation.* 
It would be as reasonable to assert that the basin of the ocean 
is immortal, from the greatness of its capacity to hold water; 
or that we are to live for ever in this world, because we are 
afraid of dying; as to maintain the immortality of the soul, from 
the greatness of its capacity for knowledge and happiness, or 
from its dread of annihilation. 

I remarked, in the beginning of this discourse, that persons 
who are deprived of the just exercise of memory, imagination, 
or judgment, were proper subjects of medicine; and that there 
are many cases upon record which prove, that the diseases from 
the derangement of these faculties have yielded to the healing art. 

It is perhaps only because the diseases of the moral faculty 
have not been traced to a connection with physical causes, that 
medical writers have neglected to give them a place in their 
systems of nosology, and that so few attempts have been hitherto 
made to lessen or remove them, by physical as well as rational 
and moral remedies. 

I shall not attempt to derive any support to my opinions, 
from the analogy of the influence of physical causes upon the 
temper and conduct of brute animals. The facts which I shall 

* "Life and immortality are brought to light only through the gospel." 

2 Tim. i. 10. 



1 92 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

produce in favour of the action of these causes upon morals in 
the human species, will, I hope, render unnecessary the argu- 
ments that might be drawn from that quarter. 

I am aware, that in venturing upon this subject I step upon 
untrodden ground. I feel as /Eneas did, when he was about to 
enter the gates of Avernus, but without a sybil to instruct me 
in the mysteries that are before me. I foresee, that men who 
have been educated in the mechanical habits of adopting popular 
or established opinions will revolt at the doctrine I am about 
to deliver, while men of sense and genius will hear my proposi- 
tions with candour, and if they do not adopt them, will com- 
mend that boldness of inquiry, that prompted me to broach 
them. 

I shall begin with an attempt to supply the defects of noso- 
logical writers, by naming the partial or weakened action of the 
moral faculty, MICRONOMIA. The total absence of this faculty I 
shall call ANOMIA. By the law, referred to in these new genera 
of vesaniae, I mean the law of nature written in the human heart, 
and which I formerly quoted from the writings of St. Paul. 

In treating of the effects of physical causes upon the moral 
faculty, it might help to extend our ideas upon this subject, to 
reduce virtues and vices to certain species, and to point out the 
effects of particular species of virtue and vice; but this would 
lead us into a field too extensive for the limits of the present 
inquiry. I shall only hint at a few cases, and have no doubt but 
the ingenuity of my auditors will supply my silence, by applying 
the rest. 

It is immaterial, whether the physical causes that are to be 
enumerated act upon the moral faculty through the medium of 
the senses, the passions, the memory, or the imagination. Their 
influence is equally certain, whether they act as remote, pre- 
disposing, or occasional causes. 

i. The effects of CLIMATE upon the moral faculty claim our 
first attention. Not only individuals, but nations, derive a con- 
siderable part of their moral, as well as intellectual character, 
from the different portions they enjoy of the rays of the sun. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 193 

Irascibility, levity, timidity, and indolence, tempered with occa- 
sional emotions of benevolence, are the moral qualities of the 
inhabitants of warm climates, while selfishness, tempered with 
sincerity and integrity, form the moral character of the in- 
habitants of cold countries. The state of the weather, and the 
seasons of the year also, have a visible effect upon moral sen- 
sibility. The month of November, in Great Britain, rendered 
gloomy by constant fogs and rains, has been thought to favour 
the perpetration of the worst species of murder, while the vernal 
sun, in middle latitudes, has been as generally remarked for pro- 
ducing gentleness and benevolence. 

2. The effects of DIET upon the moral faculty are more 
certain, though less attended to, than the effects of climate. "Full- 
ness of bread, " we are told, was one of the predisposing causes 
of the vices of the Cities of the Plain. The fasts so often incul- 
cated among the Jews were intended to lessen the incentives to 
vice; for pride, cruelty, and sensuality, are as much the natural 
consequences of luxury, as apoplexies and palsies. But the quality 
as well as the quantity of aliment has an influence upon morals; 
hence we find the moral diseases that have been mentioned are 
most frequently the offspring of animal food. The prophet Isaiah 
seems to have been sensible of this, when he ascribes such salu- 
tary effects to a temperate and vegetable diet. "Butter and honey 
shall he eat," says he, "that he may know to refuse the evil, and 
to choose the good." But we have many facts which prove the 
efficacy of a vegetable diet upon the passions. Dr. Arbuthnot 
assures us, that he cured several patients of irascible tempers, by 
nothing but a prescription of this simple and temperate regimen. 

3. The effects of CERTAIN DRINKS upon the moral faculty 
are not less observable, than upon the intellectual powers of the 
mind. Fermented liquors, of a good quality, and taken in a 
moderate quantity, are favourable to the virtues of candour, 
benevolence, and generosity; but when they are taken in excess, 
or when they are of a bad quality, and taken even in a moderate 
quantity, they seldom fail of rousing every latent spark of vice 
into action. The last of these facts is so notorious, that when a 



i 9 4 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

man is observed to be ill-natured or quarrelsome in Portugal, 
after drinking, it is common in that country to say, that "he has 
drunken bad wine." While occasional fits of intoxication produce 
ill-temper in many people, habitual drunkenness (which is gen- 
erally produced by distilled spirits) never fails to eradicate 
veracity and integrity from the human mind. Perhaps this may 
be the reason why the Spaniards, in ancient times, never ad- 
mitted a man's evidence in a court of justice, who had been con- 
victed of drunkenness. Water is the universal sedative of tur- 
bulent passions; it not only promotes a general equanimity of 
temper, but it composes anger. I have heard several well-attested 
cases, of a draught of cold water having suddenly composed this 
violent passion, after the usual remedies of reason had been 
applied to no purpose. 

4. EXTREME HUNGER produces the most unfriendly effects 
upon moral sensibility. It is immaterial, whether it act by in- 
ducing a relaxation of the solids, or an acrimony of the fluids, 
or by the combined operations of both those physical causes. 
The Indians in this country whet their appetites for that savage 
species of war, which is peculiar to them, by the stimulus of 
hunger; hence, we are told, they always return meagre and 
emaciated from their military excursions. In civilized life we 
often behold this sensation to overbalance the restraints of moral 
feeling; and perhaps this may be the reason why poverty, which 
is the most frequent parent of hunger, disposes so generally to 
theft; for the character of hunger is taken from that vice; it 
belongs to it "to break through stone walls." So much does this 
sensation predominate over reason and moral feeling, that Car- 
dinal de Retz suggests to politicians, never to risk a motion in 
a popular assembly, however wise or just it may be, immediately 
before dinner. That temper must be uncommonly guarded, 
which is not disturbed by long abstinence from food. One of the 
worthiest men I ever knew, who made his breakfast his principal 
meal, was peevish and disagreeable to his friends and family, 
from the time he left his bed till he sat down to his morning 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 195 

repast; after which, cheerfulness sparkled in his countenance, 
and he became the delight of all around him. 

5. I hinted formerly, in proving the analogy between the 
effects of DISEASES upon the intellects, and upon the moral faculty, 
that the latter was frequently impaired by fevers and madness. 
I beg leave to add further upon this head, that not only madness, 
but the hysteria and hypochondriasis, as well as all those states 
of the body, whether idiopathic or symptomatic, which are 
accompanied with preternatural irritability sensibility torpor 
stupor or mobility of the nervous system, dispose to vice, either 
of the body or of the mind. It is in vain to attack these vices 
with lectures upon morality. They are only to be cured by 
medicine, particularly by exercise, the cold bath, and by a 
cold or warm atmosphere. The young woman, whose case I 
mentioned formerly, that lost her habit of veracity by a nervous 
fever, recovered this virtue, as soon as her system recovered its 
natural tone, from the cold weather which happily succeeded 
her fever.* 

6. Idleness is the parent of every vice. It is mentioned in the 
Old Testament as another of the predisposing causes of the vices 
of the Cities of the Plain. Labor of all kinds favors and facilitates 



* There is a morbid state of excitability in the body during the con- 
valescence from fever, which is intimately connected with an undue pro- 
pensity to venereal pleasures. I have met with several instances of it. The 
marriage of the celebrated Mr. Howard to a woman who was twice as 
old as himself, and very sickly, has been ascribed by his biographer, 
Dr. Aikcn, to gratitude for her great attention to him in a fit of sickness. 
I am disposed to ascribe it to a sudden paroxysm of another passion, 
which as a religious man, he could not gratify in any other, than in a 
lawful way. I have heard of two young clergmen who married ,the women 
who had nursed them in fits of sickness. In both cases there was great 
inequality in their years, and condition in life. Their motive was, prob- 
ably, the same as that which I have attributed to Mr. Howard. Dr. Patrick 
Russel takes notice of an uncommon degree of venereal excitability which 
followed attacks of the plague at Messina, in 1743, in all ranks of people. 
Marriages, he says, were more frequent after it than usual, and virgins 
were, in some instances violated, who died of that disease, by persons who 
had just recovered from it. 



196 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

the practice of virtue. The country life is happy, chiefly because 
its laborious employments are favourable to virtue, and unfriend!) 
to vice. It is a common practice, I have been told, for the planters 
in the southern states, to consign a house slave, who has become 
vicious from idleness, to the drudgery of the field, in order to 
reform him. The bridewells and workhouses of all civilized 
countries prove that LABOR is not only a very severe, but the 
most benevolent of all punishments, in as much as it is one of 
the most suitable means of reformation. Mr. Howard tells us 
in his History of Prisons, that in Holland it is a common saying, 
"Make men work and you will make them honest." And over 
the rasp and spin-house at Grceningen, this sentiment is expressed 
(he tells us) by a happy motto: 

"Vitiorum semina otium labore exhauriendum." 

The effects of steady labour in early life, in creating virtuous 
habits, is still more remarkable. The late Anthony Benezet of 
this city, whose benevolence was the sentinel of the virtue, as 
well as of the happiness of his country, made it a constant rule 
in binding out poor children, to avoid putting them into wealthy 
families, but always preferred masters for them who worked 
themselves, and who obliged these children to work in their 
presence. If the habits of virtue, contracted by means of this 
apprenticeship to labour, are purely mechanical, their effects are, 
nevertheless, the same upon the happiness of society, as if they 
flowed from principle. The mind, moreover, when preserved by 
these means from weeds, becomes a more mellow soil afterwards, 
for moral and rational improvement. 

7. The effects of EXCESSIVE SLEEP are intimately connected 
with the effects of idleness upon the moral faculty; hence we 
find that moderate, and even scanty portions of sleep, in every 
part of the world, have been found to be friendly, not only to 
health and long life, but in many instances to morality. The 
practice of the monks, who often sleep upon a floor, and who 
generally rise with the sun, for the sake of mortifying their 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 197 

sensual appetites, is certainly founded in wisdom, and has often 
produced the most salutary moral effects. 

8. The effects of BODILY PAIN upon the moral, are not less 
remarkable than upon the intellectual powers of the mind. The 
late Dr. Gregory, of the University of Edinburgh, used to tell 
his pupils, that he always found his perceptions quicker in a fit 
of the gout, than at any other time. The pangs which attend the 
dissolution of the body, are often accompanied with conceptions 
and expressions upon the most ordinary subjects, that discover 
an uncommon elevation of the intellectual powers. The effects of 
bodily pain are exactly the same in rousing and directing the 
moral faculty. Bodily pain, we find, was one of the remedies 
employed in the Old Testament, for extirpating vice and pro- 
moting virtue: and Mr. Howard tells us, that he saw it em- 
ployed successfully as a means of reformation, in one of the 
prisons which he visited. If pain has a physical tendency to cure 
vice, I submit it to the consideration of parents and legislators, 
whether moderate degrees of corporal punishments, inflicted for 
a great length of time, would not be more medicinal in their 
effects, than the violent degrees of them, which are of short 
duration. 

9. Too much cannot be said in favour of CLEANLINESS, as a 
physical means of promoting virtue. The writings of Moses have 
been called, by military men, the best "orderly book" in the 
world. In every part of them we find cleanliness inculcated with 
as much zeal, as if it was part of the moral, instead of the Leviti- 
cal law. Now, it is well-known, that the principal design of every 
precept and rite of the ceremonial parts of the Jewish religion, 
was to prevent vice, and to promote virtue. All writers upon 
the leprosy, take notice of its connection with a certain vice. 
To this disease gross animal food, particularly swine's flesh, and 
a dirty skin, have been thought to be predisposing causes 
hence the reason, probably, why pork was forbidden, and why 
ablutions of the body and limbs were so frequently inculcated 
by the Jewish law. Sir John Pringle's remarks, in his oration 
upon Captain Cook's Voyage, delivered before the Royal So- 



198 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

ciety in London, are very pertinent to this part of our subject: 
"Cleanliness (says he) is conducive to health, but is it not obvi- 
ous, that it also tends to good order and other virtues? Such 
(meaning the ship's crew) as were made more cleanly, became 
more sober, more orderly, and more attentive to duty." The 
benefit to be derived by parents and schoolmasters frdm attend- 
ing to these facts, is too obvious to be mentioned. 

10. I hope I shall be excused in placing SOLITUDE among the 
physical causes which influence the moral faculty, when I add, 
that I confine its effects to persons who are irreclaimable by 
rational or moral remedies. Mr. Howard informs us, that the 
chaplain of the prison at Liege in Germany assured him "that the 
most refractory and turbulent spirits, became tractable and sub- 
missive, by being closely confined for four or 'five days." In 
bodies that are predisposed to vice, the stimulus of cheerful, but 
much more of profane society and conversation, upon the animal 
spirits, becomes an exciting cause, and like the stroke of the flint 
upon the steel, renders the sparks of vice both active and visible. 
By removing men out of the reach of this exciting cause, they 
are often reformed, especially if they are confined long enough 
to produce a sufficient chasm in their habits of vice. Where the 
benefit of reflection, and instruction from books, can be added 
to solitude and confinement, their good effects are still more 
certain. To this philosophers and poets in every age have as- 
sented, by describing the life of a hermit as a life of passive 
virtue. 

n. Connected with solitude, as a mechanical means of pro- 
moting virtue, SILI?NCE deserves to be mentioned in this place. 
The late Dr. Fothergill, in his plan of education for that benevo- 
lent institution at Ackworth, which was the last jcare of his useful 
life, says every thing that can be said in favour of this necessary 
discipline, in the following words: "To habituate children from 
their early infancy, to silence and attention, is of the greatest 
advantage to them, not only as a preparative to their advance- 
ment in a religious life, but as the groundwork of a well-culti- 
vated understanding. To have the active minds of children put 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 199 

under a kind of restraint to be accustomed to turn their atten- 
tion from external objects, and habituated to a degree of ab- 
stracted quiet, is a matter of great consequence, and lasting 
benefit to them. Although it cannot be supposed, that young and 
active minds are always engaged in silence as they ought to be, 
yet to be accustomed thus to quietness, is no small point gained 
towards fixing a habit of patience, and recollection, which sel- 
dom forsakes those who have been properly instructed in this 
entrance of the school of wisdom, during the residue of their 
days." 

For the purpose of acquiring this branch of education, chil- 
dren cannot associate too early, nor too often with their parents, 
or with their superiors in age, rank, and wisdom. 

12. The effects of music upon the moral faculty, have been 
felt and recorded in every country. Hence we are able to dis- 
cover the virtues and vices of different nations, by their tunes, 
as certainly as by their laws. The effects of music, when simply 
mechanical, upon the passions, are powerful and extensive. But 
it remains yet to determine the degrees of moral ecstacy, that 
may be produced by an attack upon the ear, the reason, and the 
moral principle, at the same time, by the combined powers of 
music and eloquence. 

13. The ELOQUENCE of the PULPIT is nearly allied to music 
in its effects upon the moral faculty. It is true, there can be no 
permanent change in the temper and moral conduct of a man, 
that is not derived from the understanding and the will; but we 
must remember that these two powers of the mind are most 
assailable, when they are attacked through the avenue of the 
passions; and these, we know, when agitated by the powers of 
eloquence, exert a mechanical action upon every power of the 
soul. Hence we find, in every age and country where Christianity 
has been propagated, the most accomplished orators have gen- 
erally been the most successful reformers of mankind. There 
must be a defect of eloquence in a preacher, who, with the re- 
sources for oratory which are contained in the Old and New 
Testaments, does not produce in every man who hears him at 



200 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

least a temporary love of virtue. I grant that the eloquence 
of the pulpit alone cannot change men into Christians, but it 
certainly possesses the power of changing brutes into men. 
Could the eloquence of the stage be properly directed, it is 
impossible to conceive the extent of its mechanical effects upon 
morals. The language and imagery of a Shakspeare, upon moral 
and religious subjects, poured upon the passions and the senses, 
in all the beauty and variety of dramatic representation; who 
could resist, or describe their effects? 

14. ODOURS of various lands have been observed to act in 
the most sensible manner upon the moral faculty. Brydone tells 
us, upon the authority of a celebrated philosopher in Italy, that 
the peculiar wickedness of the people who live in the neighbour- 
hood of ^Etna and Vesuvius is occasioned chiefly by the smell 
of the sulphur, and of the hot exhalations which are constantly 
discharging from those volcanoes. Agreeable odours seldom fail 
to inspire serenity, and to compose the angry spirits. Hence the 
pleasure, and one of the advantages, of a flower-garden. The 
smoke of tobacco is likewise of a composing nature, and tends 
not only to produce what is called a train in perception, but to 
hush the agitated passions into silence and order. Hence the 
practice of connecting the pipe or cigar and the bottle together, 
in public company. 

15. It will be sufficient only to mention LIGHT and DARKNESS, 
to suggest facts in favour of the influence of each of them upon 
moral sensibility. How often do the peevish complaints of the 
night, in sickness, give way to the composing rays of the light of 
the morning? Othello cannot murder Desdemona by candle- 
light, and who has not felt the effects of a blazing fire upon the 
gentle passions? * 

* The temperature of the air has a considerable influence upon moral 
feeling. Henry the Third of France was always ill-humoured, and some- 
times cruel, in cold weather. There is a damp air which comes from the 
sea in Northumberland county in England, which is known by the name 
of the seafret, from its inducing fretfulness in the temper. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 201 

1 6. It is to be lamented, that no experiments have as yet been 
made, to determine the effects of all the different species of AIRS, 
which chemistry has lately discovered, upon the moral faculty. 
I have authority, from actual experiments, only to declare, that 
dephlogisticated air, when taken into the lungs, produces cheer- 
fulness, gentleness, and serenity of mind. 

17. What shall we say of the effects of MEDICINES upon the 
moral faculty? That many substances in the materia medica act 
upon the intellects is well known to physicians. Why should it 
be thought impossible for medicines to act in like manner upon 
the moral faculty? May not the earth contain, in its bowels, or 
upon its surface, antidotes? But I will not blend facts with con- 
jectures. Clouds and darkness still hang upon this part of my 
subject. 

Let it not be suspected, from any thing that I have delivered, 
that I suppose the influence of physical causes upon the moral 
faculty renders the agency of divine influence unnecessary to 
our moral happiness. I only maintain, that the operations of the 
divine government are carried on in the moral, as in the natural 
world, by the instrumentality of second causes. I have only 
trodden in the footsteps of the inspired writers; for most of the 
physical causes I have enumerated are connected with moral 
precepts, or have been used as the means of reformation from 
vice, in the Old and New Testaments. To the cases that have 
been mentioned, I shall only add, that Nebuchadnezzar was 
cured of his pride, by means of solitude and a vegetable diet. 
Saul was cured of his evil spirit, by means of David's harp, and 
St. Paul expressly says, "I keep my body under, and bring it into 
subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to 
others, I myself should be a cast-away." But I will go one step 
further, and add, in favour of divine influence upon the moral 
principle, that in those extraordinary cases, where bad men are 
suddenly reformed, without the instrumentality of physical, 
moral or rational causes, I believe that the organization of those 
parts of the body, in which the faculties of the mind are seated, 



202 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

undergoes a physical change; * and hence the expression of a 
"new creature," which is made use of in the Scriptures to denote 
this change, is proper in a literal, as well as a -figurative sense. It 
is probably the beginning of that perfect renovation of trie 
human body, which is predicted by St. Paul in the following 
words: "For our conversation is in heaven, from whence we 
look for the Saviour, who shall change our vile bodies, that they 
may be fashioned according to his own glorious body." I shall 
not pause to defend myself against the charge of enthusiasm 
in this place; for the age is at length arrived, so devoutly wished 
for by Dr. Cheyne, in which men will not be deterred in their 
researches after truth, by the terror of odious or unpopular 
names. 

I cannot help remarking under this head, that if the condi- 
tions of those parts of the human body which are connected with 
the human soul influence morals, the same reason may be given 
for a virtuous education, that has been admitted for teaching 
music, and the pronunciation of foreign languages, in the early 
and yielding state of those organs which form the voice and 
speech. Such is the effect of a moral education, that we often 
see its fruits in advanced stages of life, after the religious prin- 
ciples which were connected with it have been renounced; just 
as we perceive the same care in a surgeon in his attendance upon 
patients, after the sympathy which first produced this care has 
ceased to operate upon his mind. The boasted morality of the 
deists is, I believe, in most cases, the offspring of habits, pro- 
duced originally by the principles and precepts of Christianity. 
Hence appears the wisdom of Solomon's advice, "Train up a 
child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not," 
I had almost said, he cannot, "depart from it." 

Thus have I enumerated the principal causes which act 

* St. Paul was suddenly transformed from a persecutor into a man 
of a gentle and amiable spirit. The manner in which this change was 
effected upon his mind, he tells us in the following words: "Neither cir- 
cumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. 
From henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear in my body the 
marks of our Lord Jesus." Galatians vi. 15, 17. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 203 

mechanically upon morals. If, from the combined action of 
physical powers that are opposed to each other, the moral faculty 
should become stationary, or if the virtue or vice produced by 
them should form a neutral quality, composed of both of them, 
I hope it will not call in question the truth of our general propo- 
sitions. I have only mentioned the effects of physical causes in 
a simple state.* 

It might help to enlarge our ideas upon this subject, to take 
notice of the influence of the different stages of society, of 
agriculture and commerce, of soil and situation, of the different 
degrees of cultivation of taste, and of the intellectual powers, 
of the different forms of government, and lastly, of the different 
professions and occupations of mankind, upon the moral faculty; 
but as these act indirectly only, and by the intervention of causes 
that are unconnected with matter, I conceive they are foreign 
to the business of the present inquiry. If they should vary the 
action of the simple physical causes in any degree, I hope it will 
not call in question the truth of our general propositions, any 
more than the compound action of physical powers that are 
opposed to each other. There remain but a few more causes 
which are of a compound nature, but they are So nearly related 
to those which are purely mechanical, that I should beg leave 
to trespass upon your patience, by giving them a place in my 
oration. 

The effects of imitation, habit, and association, upon morals, 
would furnish ample matter for investigation. Considering how 
much the shape, texture, and conditions of the human body 
influence morals, I submit it to the consideration of the ingenious, 
whether, in our endeavours to imitate moral examples, some 
advantage may not be derived, from our copying the features 
and external manners of the originals. What makes the success 
of this experiment probable is, that we generally find men, whose 

* The doctrine of the influence of physical causes on morals is hap- 
pily calculated to beget charity towards the failings of our fellow- 
creatures. Our duty to practise this virtue is enforced by motives drawn 
from science, as well as from the precepts of Christianity. 



204 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

faces resemble each other, have the same manners and disposi- 
tions. I infer the possibility of success in an attempt to imitate 
originals in a manner that has been mentioned, from the facility 
with which domestics acquire a resemblance to their masters and 
mistresses, not only in manners, but in countenance, in those 
cases where they are tied to them by respect and affection. 
Husbands and wives also, where they possess the same species 
of face, under circumstances of mutual attachment often acquire 
a resemblance to each other. 

From the general detestation in which hypocrisy is held, both 
by good and bad men, the mechanical effects of habit upon 
virtue have not been sufficiently explored. There are, I am per- 
suaded, many instances, where virtues have been assumed by 
accident or necessity, which have become real from habit, and 
afterwards derived their nourishment from the heart. Hence the 
propriety of Hamlet's advice to his mother: 

"Assume a virtue, if you have it not. 
That monster, Custom, who all sense doth eat 
Of habits evil, is angel yet in this, 
That to the use of actions fair and good 
He likewise gives a frock or livery, 
That aptly is put on. Refrain to-night, 
And that shall lend a kind of easiness 
To the next abstinence; the next more easy: 
For use can almost change the stamp of nature, 
And master even the devil, or throw him out, 
With wondrous potency." 

The influence of ASSOCIATION upon morals opens an ample 
field for inquiry. It is from this principle, that we explain the 
reformation from theft and drunkenness in servants, which we 
sometimes see produced by a draught of spirits, in which tartar 
emetic had been secretly dissolved. The recollection of the pain 
and sickness excited by the emetic, naturally associates itself with 
the spirits, so as to render them both equally the objects of aver- 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 205 

sion. It is by calling in this principle only, that we can account 
for the conduct of Moses, in grinding the golden calf into a 
powder, and afterwards dissolving it (probably by means of 
hcpar sulphuris,) in water, and compelling the children of Israel 
to drink of it, as a punishment for their idolatry. This mixture 
is bitter and nauseating in the highest degree. An inclination ro 
idolatry, therefore, could not be felt, without being associated 
with the remembrance of this disagreeable mixture, and of course 
being rejected, with equal abhorrence. The benefit of corporal 
punishments, when they are of a short duration, depends in part 
upon their being connected, by time and place, with the crimes 
for which they are inflicted. Quick as the thunder follows the 
lightning, if it were possible, should punishments follow the 
crimes, and the advantage of association would be more certain, 
if the spot where they were committed were made the theatre 
of their expiation. It is from the effects of this association, prob- 
ably, that the change of place and company, produced by exile 
and transportation, has so often reclaimed bad men, after moral, 
rational, and physical means of reformation had been used to no 
purpose. 

As SENSIBILITY is the avenue to the moral faculty, every thing 
which tends to diminish it tends also to injure morals. The 
Romans owed much of their corruption to the sights of the 
contests of their gladiators, and of criminals, with wild beasts. 
For these reasons, executions should never be public. Indeed, I 
believe there are no public punishments of any kind, that do not 
harden the hearts of spectators, and thereby lessen the natural 
horror which all crimes at first excite in the human mind. 

CRUELTY to brute animals is another means of destroying 
moral sensibility. The ferocity of savages has been ascribed in 
part to their peculiar mode of subsistence. Mr. Hogarth points 
out, in his ingenious prints, the connection between cruelty to 
brute animals in youth, and murder in manhood. The emperor 
Domitian prepared his mind, by the amusement of killing flies, 
for all those bloody crimes which afterwards disgraced his 
reign. I am so perfectly satisfied of the truth of a connection 



2o6 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

between morals and humanity to brutes, that I shall find it diffi- 
cult to restrain my idolatry for that legislature, that shall first 
establish a system of laws to defend them from outrage and 
oppression. 

In order to preserve the vigour of the moral faculty, it is of 
the utmost consequence to keep young people as ignorant as 
possible of those crimes that are generally thought most dis- 
graceful to human nature. Suicide, I believe, is often propagated 
by means of newspapers. For this reason, I should be glad to 
see the proceedings of our courts kept from the public eye, 
when they expose or punish monstrous vices. 

The last mechanical method of promoting morality that I 
shall mention, is to keep sensibility alive, by a familiarity with 
scenes of distress from poverty and disease. Compassion never 
awakens in the human bosom, without being accompanied by a 
train of sister virtues. Hence the wise man justly remarks, that 
"By the sadness of the countenance, the heart is made better." 

A late French writer in his prediction of events that are to 
happen in the year 4000, says, "That mankind in that era shall 
be so far improved by religion and government, that the sick 
and the dying shall no longer be thrown, together with the dead, 
into splendid houses, but shall be relieved and protected in a 
connection with their families and society." For the honor of 
humanity, an institution,* destined for that distant period, has 
lately been founded in this city, that shall perpetuate the year 
1786 in the history of Pennsylvania. Here the feeling heart, the 
tearful eye, and the charitable hand, may always be connected 
together, and the flame of sympathy, instead of being extin- 
guished in taxes, or expiring in a solitary blaze by a single con- 
tribution, may be kept alive by constant exercise. There is a 
necessary connection between animal sympathy and good morals. 
The priest and the Levite, in the New Testament, would prob- 
ably have relieved the poor man who fell among thieves, had 
accident brought them near enough to his wounds. The un- 

* A public dispensary. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 207 

fortunate Mrs. Bellamy was rescued from the dreadful purpose 
of drowning herself, by nothing but the distress of a child, rend- 
ing the air with its cries for bread. It is probably owing, in some 
measure, to the connection between good morals and sympathy, 
that the fair sex, in every age and country, have been more 
distinguished for virtue than men; for how seldom do we hear 
of a woman devoid of humanity? 

Lastly, ATTRACTION, COMPOSITION, and DECOMPOSITION, be- 
long to the passions as well as to matter. Vices of the same 
species attract each other with the most force hence the bad 
consequences of crowding young men (whose propensities are 
generally the same) under one roof, in our modern plans of edu- 
cation. The effects of composition and decomposition upon 
vices, appear in the meanness of the school boy, being often 
cured by the prodigality of a military life, and by the precipita- 
tion of avarice, which is often produced by ambition and love.* 

If physical causes influence morals in the manner we have 
described, may they not also influence religious principles and 
opinions? I answer in the affirmative; and I have authority, 
from the records of physic, as well as from my own observa- 
tions, to declare, that religious nlelancholy and madness, in all 
their variety of species, yield with more facility to medicine, 
than simply to polemical discourses, or to casuistical advice. But 
this subject is foreign to the business of the present inquiry. 

From a review of our subject, we are led to contemplate with 
admiration, the curious structure of the human mind. How dis- 
tinct are the number, and yet how united! How subordinate 
and yet how coequal are all its faculties! How wonderful is the 
action of the mind upon the body! Of the body upon the 

* A citizen of Philadelphia had made many unsuccessful attempts to 
cure his wife of drinking ardent spirits. At length, despairing of her ref- 
ormation, he purchased a hogshead of rum, and after tapping it, left the 
key in the door where he had placed it, as if he had forgotten it. His 
design was to give her an opportunity of destroying herself, by drinking 
as much as she pleased. The woman suspected this to be his design and 
suddenly left off drinking. Anger here became the antidote of intem- 
perance. 



2o8 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

mind! And of the divine spirit upon both! What a mystery is 

the mind of man to itself! O! nature! Or to speak more 

properly, O! THOU GOD OF NATURE! In vain do we 

attempt to scan THY immensity, or to comprehend THY various 
modes of existence, when a single particle of light issued from 
THYSELF, and kindled into intelligence in the bosom of man, 
thus dazzles and confounds our understandings! 

The extent of the moral powers and habits in man is un- 
known. It is not improbable, but the human mind contains prin- 
ciples of virtue, which have never yet been excited into action. 
We behold with surprise the versatility of the human body in 
the exploits of tumblers and rope-dancers. Even the agility of a 
wild beast has been demonstrated in a girl of France, and an 
amphibious nature has been discovered in the hun\an species, in 
a young man in Spain. We listen with astonishment to the 
accounts of the memories of Mithridates, Cyrus, and Servin. We 
feel a veneration bordering upon divine homage, in contem- 
plating the stupendous understandings of Lord Verulam and 
Sir Isaac Newton; and our eyes grow dim, in attempting to pur- 
sue Shakspeare and Milton in their immeasurable flights of 
imagination. And if the history of mankind does not furnish 
similar instances of the versatility and perfection of our species 
in virtue, it is because the moral faculty has been the subject 
of less culture and fewer experiments than the body, and the 
intellectual powers of the mind. From what has been said, the 
reason of this is obvious. Hitherto the cultivation of the moral 
faculty has been the business of parents, schoolmasters and 
divines.* But if the principles, we have laid down, be just, the 
improvement and extension of this principle should .be equally 

* The people commonly called Quakers, and the Methodists, make 
use of the greatest number of physical remedies in their religious and 
moral discipline, of any sects of Christians; and hence we find them every 
where distinguished for their good morals. There are several excellent 
physical institutions in other churches; and if they do not produce the 
same moral effects that we observe from physical institutions among those 
two modern sects, it must be ascribed to their being more neglected by 
the members of those churches. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 209 

the business of the legislator the natural philosopher and the 
physician; and a physical regimen should as necessarily accom- 
pany a moral precept, as directions with respect to the air 
exercise and diet, generally accompany prescriptions for the 
consumption and the gout. To encourage us to undertake ex- 
periments for the improvement of morals, let us recollect the 
success of philosophy in lessening the number, and mitigating 
the violence of incurable diseases. The intermitting fever, which 
proved fatal to two of the monarchs of Britain, is now under 
absolute subjection to medicine. Continual fevers are much less 
fatal than formerly. The small-pox is disarmed of its mortality 
by inoculation, and even the tetanus and the cancer have lately 
received a check in their ravages upon mankind. But medicine 
has done more. It has penetrated the deep and gloomy abyss of 
death, and acquired fresh honours in his cold embraces. Wit- 
ness the many hundred people who have lately been brought 
back to life, by the successful efforts of the humane societies, 
which are now established in many parts of Europe, and in some 
parts of America. Should the same industry and ingenuity, which 
have produced these triumphs of medicine over diseases and 
death, be applied to the moral science, it is highly probable, that 
most of those baneful vices, which deform the human breast, 
and convulse the nations of the earth, might be banished from 
the world. I am not so sanguine as to suppose, that it is possible 
for man to acquire so much perfection from science, religion, 
liberty and good government, as to cease to be mortal; but I 
am fully persuaded, that from the combined action of causes, 
which operate at once upon the reason, the moral faculty, the 
passions, the senses, the brain, the nerves, the blood and the 
heart, it is possible to produce such a change in his moral char- 
acter, as shall raise him to a resemblance of angels nay more, 
to the likeness of GOD himself. The state of Pennsylvania still 
deplores the loss of a man, in whom not only reason and revela- 
tion, but many of the physical causes that have been enumer- 
ated, concurred to produce such attainments in moral excellency, 
as have seldom appeared in a human being. This amiable citizen, 



2io SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

considered his fellow-creature, man, as God's extract, from his 
own works; and, whether this image of himself, was cut out 
from ebony or copper whether he spoke his own or a foreign 
language or whether he worshipped his Maker with cere- 
monies, or without them, he still considered him as a brother, 
and equally the object of his benevolence. Poets and historians, 
who are to live hereafter, to you I commit his panegyric; and 
when you hear of a law for abolishing slavery in each of the 
American states, such as was passed in Pennsylvania, in the year 
1780 when you hear of the kings and queens of Europe, pub- 
lishing edicts for abolishing the trade in human souls and lastly, 
when you hear of schools and churches with all the arts of civi- 
lized life, being established among the nations of Africa, then 
remember and record, that this revolution in favour of human 
happiness, was the effect of the labours the publications the 
private letters and the prayers of ANTHONY BENEZET.* 

I return from this digression, to address myself in a particular 
manner to you, VENERABLE SAGES and FELLOW-CITIZENS in the 
REPUBLIC OF LETTERS. The influence of philosophy, we have been 
told, has already been felt in course. To increase, and complete, 
this influence, there is nothing more necessary, than for the 

* This worthy man was descended from an ancient and honourable 
family that flourished in the court of Louis XIV. With liberal prospects 
in life, he early devoted himself to teaching an English school; in which, 
for industry, capacity, and attention to the morals and principles of the 
youth committed to his care, he was without an equal. He published 
many excellent tracts against the African trade, against war, and the use 
of spirituous liquors, and one in favour of civilizing and christianizing the 
Indians. He wrote to the queen of Great Britain, and the queen of Portu- 
gal, to use their influence in their respective courts to abolish the African 
trade. He also wrote an affectionate letter to the king of Prussia, to 
dissuade him from making war. The history of his life affords a remark- 
able instance, how much it is possible for an individual to accomplish in 
the world; and that the most humble stations do not preclude good men 
from the most extensive usefulness. He bequeathed his estate (after the 
death of his widow), to the support of a school for the education of 
negro children, which he had founded and taught for several years before 
he died. He departed this life in May, 1784, in the seventy-first year of 
his age, in the meridian of his usefulness, universally lamented by persons 
of all ranks and denominations. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 211 

numerous literary societies in Europe and America to add the 
SCIENCE OF MORALS to their experiments and inquiries. The god- 
like scheme of Henry IV. of France, and of the illustrious queen 
Elizabeth, of England, for establishing a perpetual peace in Eu- 
rope, may be accomplished without a system of jurisprudence, 
by a confederation of learned men and learned societies. It is in 
their power, by multiplying the objects of human reason, to 
bring the monarchs and rulers of the world under their sub- 
jection, and thereby to extirpate war, slavery, and capital pun- 
ishments, from the list of human evils. Let it not be suspected 
that I detract, by this declaration, from the honour of the Chris- 
tian religion. It is true, Christianity was propagated without the 
aid of human learning; but this was one of those miracles, which 
was necessary to establish it, and which, by repetition, would 
cease to be a miracle. They misrepresent the Christian religion, 
who suppose it to be wholly an internal revelation, and addressed 
only to the moral faculties of the mind. The truths of Christi- 
anity afford the greatest scope for the human understanding, 
and they will become intelligible to us, only in proportion as 
the human genius is stretched, by means of philosophy, to its 
utmost dimensions. Errors may be opposed to errors; but truths, 
upon all subjects, mutually support each other. And perhaps one 
reason why some parts of the Christian revelation are still in- 
volved in obscurity, may be occasioned by our imperfect knowl- 
edge of the phenomena and laws of nature. The truths of phi- 
losophy and Christianity dwell alike in the mind of the Deity, 
and reason and religion are equally the offspring of his goodness. 
They must, therefore, stand and fall together. By reason, in the 
present instance, I mean the power of judging of truth, as well 
as the power of comprehending it. Happy era! when the divine 
and the philosopher shall embrace each other, and unite their 
labours for the reformation and happiness of mankind! 



ON THE DIFFERENT SPECIES 
OF MANIA 



BY THE ASSISTANCE of Dr. CuIIcn's nosology, I perceive that 
madness is divided into two genera. The one is called mania, 
which our author defines to be "universal madness." The other 
is called melancholia, which the doctor defines "to be "partial 
madness." This partial madness includes six species. But in this 
number, the learned professor is certainly too limited for if 
false judgement or injudicious conduct upon any subject, con- 
stitutes madness, I am persuaded that that disease is the most 
frequent of any that occurs in the whole nomenclature of medi- 
cine. 

To supply the defects of Dr. Cullen's nosology, I have set 
down a list of the different species of partial insanity, which 
have occurred to me in the course of my observations upon 
mankind. I shall deliver them in the language of our country, 
because I wish to be understood by men of all classes, and by 
both sexes, although it would be easy to clothe them in more 
technical and learned terms. 

I shall define madness in the present instance to be a 'want 
of perception, or an undue perception of truth, duty, or interest. 

I shall begin by naming some of those species of madness 
which at present prevail in America. 

i. The NEGRO MANIA. This disease, which formerly pre- 
vailed in the eastern and middle, is now confined chiefly to the 
southern states. The inhabitants of these states mistake their 
interest and happiness in supposing that their lands can be cul- 

212 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 213 

tivated only by Negro slaves. The Author of nature never des- 
tined the natives of Africa to hard labour, and hence he has 
made that part of the globe to yield almost spontaneously all 
that is necessary for the subsistence of man. There is no reason 
why rice and indigo may not be cultivated by white men, as well 
as wheat and indian corn. It is true, if the owners of the soil in 
the Carolinas and Georgia, cultivated their lands with their own 
hands, they would not be able to roll in coaches, or to squander 
thousands of pounds yearly in visiting all the cities of Europe, but 
they would enjoy more health and happiness in a competency 
acquired without violating the laws of nature and religion. 

2. The LAND MANIA is a frequent disease in every part of 
America. It broke out with peculiar violence in most of the states 
immediately after the peace, and has continued to be more or 
less the epidemic of our country ever since. A room in a gaol, 
instead of a cell in an hospital, is the usual cure of this species 
of madness. 

3. The HORSE MANIA. A race a carriage or riding horse 
is often an object of greater attachment with persons who are 
afflicted with this disorder, than a wife or a mistress. A gentle- 
man once spent a long evening with a company of these ma- 
niacal gentlemen, soon after he had read the Roman history, 
and unfortunately, from not being interested in their conversa- 
tion, fell into a reverie. A debate about the pedigree of a race 
horse having been started, one of the disputants appealed to him 
by mistake, and said, "Say Tom was not Jupiter the sire of 
Emperor?" "Which of the Roman emperors do you mean, Sir?" 
said the gentleman. "Poh, you fool," said his companion, "I mean 
Col. B 's bay horse, Emperor." 

4. THE LIBERTY MANIA. This disease shews itself in visionary 



ideas of liberty and government. It occupies the time and talents 
so constantly, as to lead men to neglect their families for the 
sake of taking care of the state. Such men expect liberty without 
law government without power sovereignty without a head 
and wars without expense. They consider industry and its 
usual consequence, wealth, as the only evils of a state, and ascribe 



2i 4 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

Roman attainments in virtue to those men only, who, by consum- 
ing an undue proportion of their time in writing, talking, or 
debating upon politics, bequeath the maintenance of their fami- 
lies to their country. 

5. The MONARCHICAL MANIA. All those people who believe 
that "a king can do no wrong," and who hold it to be criminal 
to depose tyrants, are affected with this mania. They are likewise 
affected with this species of mania, who suppose that wise and 
just government cannot be carried on without kings. A young 
Scotch officer discovered an extraordinary degree of this mad- 
ness in a speech he made to an American prisoner during the 
late American war. "This is (said he) the strangest rebellion I 
ever heard of in au my life. Ye are au fighting, and yet ye have 
na king to fight for." He had no idea that men had any property 
in themselves, or that it was right for them to contend, by arms, 
for any thing, but the power or glory of a king. 

6. THE REPUBLICAN MANIA. Every man, who attempts to 
introduce a republican form of government, where the people 
are not prepared for it by virtue and knowledge, is as much a 
madman as St. Anthony was, when he preached the Gospel to 
fishes. We have a remarkable instance of this species of madness 
in a member of the Rump Parliament, who objected to the word 
"King" of heaven, in an ordinance that was offered to the House, 
and proposed, as an amendment, that instead of the "King" 
of heaven, the phrase should be, the "parliament of heaven." 

7. The DONATION MANIA. All those people who impoverish 
their families, by extravagant contributions to public undertak- 
ings, or who neglect their relations at their death, by bequeath- 
ing their estates to hospitals, colleges, and churches, are affected 
with this species of madness. 

8. The MILITARY MANIA. Young men are most afflicted 
with this madness; but we now and then meet with it in an old 
soldier, as in uncle Toby, in Tristram Shandy. It is impossible 
to understand a conversation with these gentlemen without the 
help of a military dictionary. Counterscarps, morasses, fosses, 
glacis, ramparts, redoubts, abbatis, &c. form the beginning, mid- 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 215 

die, and end of every sentence. They remember nothing in his- 
tory, but the detail of sieges and battles, and they consider men 
as rrfade only to carry muskets. The adventurers in the holy 
wars, before the Reformation, were all infected with this species 
of military madness. 

9. The DUELLING MANIA. There are some men, whose ideas 
of honour amount to madness; hence every attack upon their 
character, whether true or false, can be expiated only by a duel. 
The madness of this passion appears in this, that a good char- 
acter stands in no need of a pistol or sword to defend it, nor 
can a bad character be supported by a whole park of artillery. 

10. THE HUNTING MANIA. A mad man in England was or- 
dered by his physician to use the cold bath. In returning one 
day from the bath, he stopped to converse with a servant, who 
was following his master to the place appointed for a fox-chase. 
The madman asked the servant how much it cost his master 
to maintain his horses and hounds? The servant replied .500 
a year. And how much does he sell his foxes for after he catches 
them? "For nothing at all," said the servant. "For nothing!" 
said the madman with astonishment "I wish my physician 
could come across him he would soon order him to use the 
cold bath." 

1 1 . The GAMING MANIA. This disorder seizes gentlemen in 
some instances before breakfast in the morning, and continues, 
with only short intervals for meals, till n o'clock at night. It 
affects some people in the night as well as the day, and on 
Sundays as well as week days. Its operation is not confined to 
the fire-side: it appears on the public roads at courts elections 
and even at places of public worship. It is impossible for two 
gentlemen, afflicted with this madness, to meet on horseback, 
without laying a wager upon the gaits, whether of running, 
pacing, or trotting, of their respective horses. This madness is 
of a destructive tendency, and often conducts persons afflicted 
with it to poverty, imprisonment, and an ignominious death. 

12. The MACHINE MANIA. This species includes all those 
maniacs, who have ruined themselves by castle-building, whether 



216 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

the objects of their schemes have been perpetual motion, or 
princely fortunes, to be raised by a sudden exertion of the 
mechanical powers. 

13. The ALCHEMICAL MANIA. The objects with the persons 
afflicted with this disorder are, the art of converting base metals 
into gold, and an elixir, the property of which shall be, to restore 
the duration of human life to its antediluvian extent. This species 
of madness has lessened within these thirty years, owing to the 
discoveries which have been made in the principles of general 
science, and particularly of chemistry. I once met with a man 
who charmed me with his profound and extensive learning upon 
every topic, till alchemy became the subject of conversation; 
when he suddenly broke out in praise of an elixir, discovered, 
he said, in India, which had preserved a Jew aliye, above 1800 
years. This Jew, he said, was present at the trial and crucifixion 
of the Saviour of the world. He was so confident of the truth 
of what he asserted, that he seemed offended at the cold manner 
in which I appeared to assent to his story. 

14. The VIRTUOSO MANIA. In this species of madness I in- 
clude an extravagant fondness for the monstrous and rare pro- 
ductions of nature and art. It is widely different from a well- 
regulated passion for the objects of natural history. Distorted 
shells petrified toads Indian pipes expensive coins, &c. &c. 
form the collections of this species of madmen. The English 
gentleman who gave one hundred guineas for the stopper of a 
vinegar cruet dug out of the Herculaneum, and the English 
Marquis who gave three hundred guineas for one of Queen 
Elizabeth's farthings, were deeply affected with this mad- 
ness. 

15. The RAMBLING MANIA. This species of madness includes 
all those people who are perpetually changing their country 
houses or occupations, and who are always praising the absent, 
and abusing the present good things of life. I have known sev- 
eral men afflicted with this disease, who have settled and un- 
settled themselves in half the kingdoms of Europe, and in one 
third of the states of America. These men are in general useless 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 217 

to their families, and to society, and often end their days in 
dependence and poverty. 

1 6. The ECCLESIASTICAL MANIA. This species of madness in- 
cludes bigots of all denominations. The late Dr. Johnson was a 
striking example of Episcopal madness. The minister of the 
church of Scotland, who daily drank at his table the "glorious 
memory of Jenny Geddes, who threw the stool at the bishop," 
was likewise affected with it. 

17. The NATIONAL MANIA. This disease is very common in 
Great Britain and France. The late Lord Chatham was affected 
with it. The very name of Bourbon quickened his pulse with 
resentment, and he fainted at the idea of American independence. 
The Antigallican society in London, is the offspring of this 
madness. 

1 8. The LOVE MANIA. All marriages, without a visible or prob- 
able means of subsistence, are founded in madness. All premature 
attachments between the sexes which obstruct the pursuits of 
business, are likewise the offspring of the love mania. The ex- 
penses of a family, like a blistering plaster between the shoulders, 
never fail of curing this species of madness. 

19. The PRIDE MANIA. Every man who values himself upon 
his birth titles, or wealth, more than upon merit, is affected 
with this madness. It is a most loathsome disorder. I have heard 
of a nostrum which seldom fails of curing it, and that is, to treat 
it with contempt. Mordqcai made Hainan miserable in the sun- 
shine of a court, only by refusing to pull off his hat to him. 

20. The DRESS MANIA. Let not curiosity lead us to Bedlam 
or the cells of an hospital to see madmen or mad-women. Every 
place of public resort nay, every street of our city is filled 
with them. A. B. demands a court of enquiry to prove the 
insanity of his sister, in order to sequester her estate. What has 
she done? says the court. Why look at her hat her craw and 
her bishop! Do they not proclaim her madness? Nor is this 
all To lessen the inconveniences of those articles of dress, 
she has altered her carriage raised the doors of her chambers 
and enlarged the bottoms of every chair in her house. Do, good 



218 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

gentlemen, issue a statute of lunacy against her, or she will come 
upon the township, or end her days in the bettering-house. 

21. The PLEASURE MANIA. An attachment to balls to the 
stage or to feeding dancing sleighing and card parties 
or to any other amusement to the exclusion of business, or the 
injury of fortune or health, may justly be considered as a species 
of madness. I once saw a caricature of a young lady going in a 
sedan chair through a street in London. On one side of the chair 
a physician walked with a smelling bottle in his hand; on the 
other, a young macaroni with a fan in his hand. The young lady, 
upon seeing one of her acquaintances pass her, cried out, "I'm 
a going" u yes, my dear," said her acquaintance, "you look as* 
if you had not a day to live"; u you mistake me," said the 
sickly pleasure-worn lady, "I am going not to my grave, 
but to Ranelagh." Nor is this pleasure mania confined to the 
female sex. The gentleman in London, who left his wife in the 
last stage of a fever, and charged his servant not to send for him 
from a club, unless his mistress should die in his absence, cer- 
tainly laboured under uncommon degrees of this species of 
madness. 

22. The ROGUE MANIA. There are some men whose rage 
against oppression fraud and injustice of every kind, rises 
so high, as to constitute a species of madness. Such men often 
expose themselves to ridicule and injury, by attempting to detect 
and expose culprits speculators and public defaulters, without 
considering that such men are often the best supporters of parties, 
and in some instances of governments, from each of whom they 
will always be sure to meet with protection. I once knew a man 
who rose from table in a large company, and walked across the 
floor, stamping and swearing in a fit of insanity, upon hearing 
a gentleman say a few words in favour of the slave trade. His 
host, a sensible Scotchman, brought him to his senses by a very 
simple rebuke "Hod hod man you conno put the world to 
rights come tak your soup." 

23. The HUMANE MANIA. Strange! that an excess of hu- 
manity should often produce those irregularities in behaviour 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 219 

and conduct, which constitute madness! Dr. Goldsmith has, with 
great ingenuity, described this species of madness in his comedy 
of the good natured man. Persons afflicted with this madness, 
feel for every species of distress, and seem to pour forth tears 
upon some occasions, from every pore of their bodies. Their 
souls vibrate in unison with every touch of misery, that affects 
any member of the great family of mankind. Gracious heaven! 
if ever I should be visited with this species of madness, however 
much it may expose me to ridicule or resentment, my constant 
prayer to the divine fountain of justice and pity shall be, that 
I may never be cured of it. 

To these species I might add, 

24. The MUSICAL, 

25. POETICAL, and 

26. MATHEMATICAL MANIAS. But these are so Common and 
well known, that it will not be necessary to describv them. 

Upon a review of this essay, it will appear, that . very man 
is mad, according to Linnaeus, upon some subject, or, to quote 
a higher authority, that "madness is in their hearts wl/le they 
live, and after that, they go to the dead." 

How great are our obligations to Christianity, whic. , by 
enlightening directing and regulating our judgments WL'S 
and passions, in the knowledge choice and pursuit of duty 
truth and interest, restores us to what the apostle very emphati- 
cally calls "a sound mind." 



ON THE DIFFERENT SPECIES 
OF PHOBIA 



DR. CULLEN has divided the Hydrophobia into two species. The 
principal species that disease which is communicated by the bite 
of a mad animal, and which is accompanied with a dread of 
water. Without detracting from the merit of Dr. Cullen, I can- 
not help thinking that the genus of the disease which he has 
named Hydrophobia, should have been PHOBIA, and that number, 
and names of the species, should have been taken from the names 
of the objects of fear or aversion. In conformity to this idea, I 
shall define Phobia to be "a fear of an imaginary evil, or an undue 
fear of a real one." The following species appear to belong to it. 

1. The CAT PHOBIA. It will be unnecessary to mention in- 
stances of the prevalence of this distemper. I know several gen- 
tlemen of unquestionable courage, who have retreated a thousand 
times from the sight of a cat; and who have even discovered signs 
of fear and terror upon being confined in a room with a cat 
that was out of sight. 

2. The RAT PHOBIA is a more common disease than the first 
species that has been mentioned: It is peculiar, in some measure, 
to the female sex. I know several ladies who never fail to discover 
their terror by screaming at the sight of a rat; and who cannot 
even sleep within the noise of that animal. 

3 . The INSECT PHOBIA. This disease is peculiar to the female 
sex. A spider a flea or a mosquito alighting upon a lady's neck, 
has often produced an hysterical fit. To compensate for this 
defect, in the constitutions of certain ladies, nature has kindly 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 221 

endowed them with the highest degree of courage, with respect 
to the great object of religious fear. They dare "provoke even 
Omnipotence to arms," by irreverently taking his name in vain 
in common conversation. Hence our ears are often grated by 
those ladies, with the exclamations of "Good God!" "God pre- 
serve me!" "O Lord!" &c. &c. upon the most trifling occasions. 
Dr. Young seems to have had this species of Insect Phobia in his 
eye, when he cries out, 

"Say, O! my Muse say whence such boldness springs, 
Such daring courage in such tim'rous things? 
Start from a feather from an insect fly 
A match for nothing but, the Deity!" 

4. The ODOR PHOBIA is a very frequent disease with all classes 
of people. There are few men or women to whom smells of some 
kind are not disagreeable. Old cheese has often produced paleness 
and tremor in a full fed guest. There are odors from certain 
flowers that produce the same effects: hence it is not altogether 
a figure to say, that there are persons who "die of a rose in 
aromatic pain." 

5. The DIRT PHOBIA. This disease is peculiar to certain 
ladies, especially to such as are of low Dutch extraction. They 
make every body miserable around them with their excessive 
cleanliness: the whole of their lives is one continued warfare 
with dirt their rooms resound at all hours with the noise of 
scrubbing brushes, and their entries are obstructed three times a 
week, with tubs and buckets. I have heard of women, afflicted 
with this disease, who sat constantly in their kitchens, lest they 
should dirty their parlours. I once saw one of those women in 
New-Jersey, fall down upon her knees, with a house cloth in 
her hand, and wipe away such of the liquid parts of the food as 
fell upon the floor from a company of gentlemen, that dined 
in her house; muttering, at the same time, the most terrible com- 
plaints, in low Dutch of the beastly manners of her guests. I have 
heard of a woman in the same state, who never received a visit 



222 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

from any persons who did not leave their shoes at her door in 
muddy weather. She always had a pair of slippers placed at the 
door, for her visitors to put on, till their shoes were cleaned by 
a servant. 

6. The RUM PHOBIA is a very rare distemper. I have known 
only five instances of it in the course of my life. The smell of 
rum, and of spirituous liquors of all kinds, produced upon these 
persons, sickness and distress. If it were possible to communicate 
this distemper as we do the small-pox, by inoculation, what an 
immense revenue would be derived from it by physicians, pro- 
vided every person in our country who is addicted to the in- 
temperate use of spirits, were compelled to submit to that opera- 
tion! 

7. The WATER PHOBIA. This species includes jiot the dread 
of swallowing, but of crossing water. I have known some people, 
who sweat with terror in crossing an ordinary ferry. Peter the 
Great of Muscovy laboured under this disease in early life. As a 
variety of this species of Water Phobia, may be considered that 
aversion from drinking water, which we sometimes observe in 
some men, without being accompanied with a similar dislike to 
artificial liquors. I recollect once to have heard of a physician 
in this city, who told a gentleman that was afflicted with a dropsy, 
just before he tapped him, that he expected to draw off not less 
than three gallons of water from him "Of ivine you mean, 
doctor, said he; for I have not drank that quantity of 'water these 
twenty years." 

8. The SOLO PHOBIA; by which I mean the dread of solitude. 
This distemper is peculiar to persons of vacant minds, and guilty 
consciences. Such people cannot bear to be alone, especially if 
the horror of sickness is added' to the pain of attempting to think, 
or to the terror of thinking. 

9. The POWER PHOBIA. This distemper belongs to certain 
demagogues. Persons afflicted with it, consider power as an evil 
they abhor even the sight of an officer of government. 

10. The FACTION PHOBIA. This disease is peculiar to persons 
of an opposite character to those who are afraid of power. It 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 223 

discovers itself in undue fears of mobs, insurrections, and such 
other things as may affect the order and stability of governments. 

1 1. The WANT PHOBIA. This disease is confined chiefly to old 
people. It is not the father of Tristram Shandy alone who wipes 
the sweat from his face, and examines both sides of a guinea every 
time he pays it away. There are few old men who part with 
money without feeling some of the symptoms of an intermitting 
fever. This distemper has arisen to such a height, as to furnish 
the most entertaining and ludicrous scenes in plays and novels. 
I have heard of an old gentleman in London, who had above 
.20,000 in the funds, who sold a valuable library a year or two 
before he died; and gave as a reason for it, that he was afraid he 
should not have enough to bury him without making that addi- 
tion to his fortune. 

12. The DOCTOR PHOBIA. This distemper is often complicated 
with other diseases. It arises, in some instances, from the dread 
of taking physic, or of submitting to the remedies of bleeding 
and blistering. In some instances I have known it occasioned by 
a desire sick people feel of deceiving themselves, by being kept 
in ignorance of the danger of their disorders. It might be sup- 
posed, that, "the dread of a long bill" was one cause of the Doc- 
tor Phobia; but this excites terror in the minds of but few people: 
for who ever thinks of paying a doctor, while he can use his 
money to advantage in another way! It is remarkable this Doc- 
tor Phobia always goes off as soon as a patient is sensible of his 
danger. The doctor, then, becomes an object of respect and 
attachment, instead of horror. 

13. The BLOOD PHOBIA. There is a native dread of the sight 
of blood in every human creature, implanted probably for the 
wise purpose of preventing our injuring or destroying ourselves, 
or others. Children cry oftener from seeing their blood, than 
from the pain occasioned by falls or blows. Valuable medicines 
are stamped with a disagreeable taste to prevent their becoming 
ineffectual from habit, by being used as condiments or articles 
of diet. In like manner, Blood-letting as a remedy, is defended 
from being used improperly, by the terror which accompajuos 



224 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

its use. This terror rises to such a degree as sometimes to produce 
paleness and faintness when it is prescribed as a remedy. How- 
ever unpopular it may be, it is not contrary to nature, for she 
relieves herself when oppressed, by spontaneous discharges of 
blood from the nos, and other parts of the body. The objections 
to it therefore appear to be founded less in the judgments than 
in the fears of sick people. 

14. The THUNDER PHOBIA. This species is common to all 
ages, and to both sexes: I have seen it produce the most distressing 
appearances and emotions upon many people. I know a man, 
whom the sight of a black cloud in the morning, in the season 
of thunder-gusts, never fails to make melancholy during the 
whole of the ensuing day. 

15. The HOME PHOBIA. This disease belongs tq all those men 
who prefer tavern, to domestic society, and to all those women 
who spend the principal part qf their time in morning, and after- 
noon visits, or in long evening parties, at the theatre, or in tumul- 
tuous meetings of any kind. 

1 6. The CHURCH PHOBIA. This disease has become epidemic 
in the city of Philadelphia: hence we find half the city flying 
in chariots, phaetons, chairs, and even stage- waggons, as well as 
on horse-back, from the churches, every Sunday in summer, as 
soon as they are opened for divine worship. In the winter, when 
it is more difficult to escape the horror of looking into an open 
church, we observe our citizens drowning their fear of the 
church, in plentiful entertainments. A short story will shew the 
prevalence of this distemper in Philadelphia. The Sunday after 
the inhabitants of Charleston arrived here, during the late war, 
they assembled to worship God in one of our churches. A young 
lady (one of the company) was surprised at seeing no faces but 
such as had been familiar to her in her own state, in the church, 
but very kindly ascribed it to the politeness of the ladies and 
gentlemen of Philadelphia, who had that day given up their 
seats to accommodate the Carolina strangers. 

17. The GHOST PHOBIA. This distemper is most common 
among servants and children. It manifests itself chiefly in passing 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 225 

by grave-yards, and old empty houses. I have heard of a few in- 
stances of grown people, and of men of cultivated understand- 
ings, who have been afflicted with this species of Phobia. Physi- 
cians who have sacrificed the lives of their patients through care- 
lessness, rashness, or ignorance; as also witnesses who have con- 
victed by their evidence judges who have condemned by their 
influence and kings and governors who have executed by their 
power, innocent persons, through prejudice or resentment, are 
all deeply affected with the Ghost Phobia. Generals of armies 
and military butchers, who make war only to gratify ambition 
or avarice, are likewise subject to paroxysms of this disorder. 
The late King of Prussia, upon a certain occasion, abused his 
guards most intemperately, for conducting him from a review 
through a grave-yard. The reflection on the number of men 
whom his power and sword had consigned to the mansions of 
death, produced in his majesty, this Ghost Phobia in all its 
horrors. 

1 8. The DEATH PHOBIA. The fear of death is natural to man 
but there are degrees of it which constitute a disease. It pre- 
vails chiefly among the rich the luxurious and the profane. A 
man of pleasure in the city of New- York, used frequently to say 
in his convivial moments, that "this world would be a most de- 
lightful place to live in, if it were not for that cursed thing called 
death it comes in and spoils all." The late King of Prussia 
always concealed his occasional indispositions from his subjects, 
lest he should be led after them to connect the idea of his sickness 
with that of his death. I have heard of a man, who possessed this 
Death Phobia in so high a degree, that he never would see his 
friends when they were sick avoided seeing funerals and, 
upon one occasion, threatened to kick a sexton of a church out 
of his house, for inviting him to the burial of one of his neigh- 
bours. It is remarkable, that even old age, with all its in- 
firmities, will not subdue this disease in some people. The late 
Dr. Johnson discovered the most unphilosophical as well as un- 
Christian fear of dying, in the 73d year of his age: and the late 
Dr. P , after having lived 84 years, went from Edinburgh 



226 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

to Padua in Italy, in order, by exercise and a change of climate, 
to protract the hour of his dissolution. 

For these maladies of the mind, there are two infallible reme- 
dies, viz. reason and religion. The former is the sure antidote of 
such of them as originate in folly, while the latter is effectual 
in those species, which are derived from vice. "I fear God (said 
Pascal) and therefore I have no other fear." A belief in God's 
providence, and a constant reliance upon his power and good- 
ness, impart a composure and firmness to the mind which render 
it incapable of being moved by all the real, or imaginary evils 
of life. 



THE PROGRESS OF MEDICINE 

A Lecture 



THE IMPERFECTION of medicine is a common subject of com- 
plaint, by the enemies of our profession. It has been admitted 
by physicians. The design of this lecture is, to enumerate the 
causes which have retarded its progress; and to point out the 
means of promoting its certainty, and greater usefulness. The 
subject is an interesting one, and highly proper as an intro- 
duction to a course of lectures upon the institutes and practice 
of medicine. I shall begin by briefly enumerating the causes 
which have retarded the progress of our science. 

i st. The first cause, that I shall mention is, connecting it 
with such branches of knowledge, as have but a slender relation 
to it. What affinity have the abstruse branches of mathematics 
with medicine? and yet, years have been spent in the study of 
that science by physicians; and volumes have been written to 
explain the functions of the body, by mathematical demonstra- 
tions. 

id. The neglect to cultivate those branches of science, 
which are most intimately connected with medicine. These are 
chiefly, Natural History, and Metaphysics. In the former, I 
include, not only botany, zoology, and fossiology, but com- 
parative anatomy and physiology. In the latter, I include a sim- 
ple history of the faculties and operations of the mind, uncon- 
nected with the ancient nomenclature of words and phrases, 
which once constituted the science of metaphysics. 

3d. The publication of systems and discoveries in medicine 

227 



228 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

in the Latin language. Our science is interesting to all mankind; 
but by locking it up in a dead language, which is but partially 
known, we have prevented its associating with other sciences, 
and precluded it from attracting the notice and support of in- 
genious men of other professions. While the study of chemistry 
was confined exclusively to physicians, it was limited in its ob- 
jects, and nearly destitute of principles. It was from the labora- 
tories of private gentlemen, and particularly of Priestley, Cav- 
endish, and Lavoisier, that those great discoveries have issued, 
which have exalted chemistry to its present rank and usefulness 
among the sciences. The same remark applied to agriculture and 
manufactures, while they were carried on by the daily labor of 
men who derived their subsistence from them: It is only since 
they have become a part of the studies and employment of 
speculative men of general knowledge, that they constitute 
the basis of individual and national prosperity and independ- 
ence. 

4th. An undue attachment to great names. Hippocrates, 
Galen, and Aneteus, among the ancients; Boerhaave, Cullen, and 
Brown, among the moderns; have all, in their turns, established 
a despotism in medicine, by the popularity of their names, which 
has imposed a restraint upon free inquiry, and thereby checked 
the progress of medicine, particularly in the ages and countries, 
in which they have lived. 

5th. An undue attachment to unsuccessful, but fashionable, 
modes of practice. Where a medicine does not genially cure a 
disease, in its recent state, it is either an improper remedy, or it 
is given at an improper time, or in an improper quantity. In such 
cases, a mode of practice, directly opposed to the former one, 
has sometimes proved successful. This occurred in a remarkable 
manner, when cool air and cold drinks succeeded the hot regi- 
men, in the treatment of the smallpox. The same happy effects 
have attended the use of bleeding in the inflammatory state of 
the dropsy, after stimulating medicines had been give to cure it, 
for many years to no purpose. 

6th. Indolence and credulity in admitting things to be true, 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 229 

without sufficient examination. The acrid humors of Boerhaave 
would not have prevailed so long in our systems of pathology, 
had the blood been sooner subjected to a natural and chemical 
analysis; nor would a belief in the specific nature of the plague, 
or the competency of quarantines to prevent the importation 
of the yellow fever, have been so universal, in the beginning 
of the nineteenth century, had the facts, which are numerous 
and plain upon those subjects, received a faithful and candid 
investigation. 

7th. Neglect in recording the rise, progress, and symptoms 
of epidemic diseases, and of certain circumstances essentially 
connected with them. The loss which our science has sustained 
from the want of regular and connected histories of epidemics, 
may be estimated by the value of the knowledge which it has 
gained from the writings of Ballonius and Riverius in France, 
and of Sydenham, Wintringham, and I luxham, in Great Britain. 
The yellow fever has prevailed, in this city, four times between 
the years 1699 and 1793; and yet no history of its origin, symp- 
toms, or treatment, has been left to us by any of the physicians 
who witnessed it; nor is there any record but one, of the times 
of its appearance, to be found, except in the letter-books of 
merchants, and in ancient newspapers. Had our ancestors in 
medicine transmitted to us the history of that epidemic, with 
an account of the diseases which preceded it, and of the changes 
in the air, and in the animal and vegetable kingdoms, with which 
it was accompanied, it is probable, we might have predicted the 
malignant constitution of the atmosphere that produced the 
fevers of 1793, and of subsequent, years, and by removing the 
filth of our cities, have thereby prevented them. Upon this sub- 
ject, it may be added, that it is by studying diseases as they 
have appeared, in different countries, and in different years, 
that we shall be able to understand and cure them, much better 
than by reading abstract treatises upon them in systems of 
medicine, in which no notice is taken of their relations to time 
and place. Dr. Cleghorn's Account of the Diseases of Minorca, 
has outlived many hundred publications upon the diseases which 



2 3 o SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

he has described. Such excellent books owe their duration and 
fame to the difference which they mark in the symptoms and 
mode of cure of diseases in different countries, and in successive 
years. Even the signs of life and death, are varied by both those 
circumstances. In a malignant fever, which prevailed at Cuneum, 
in the years 1778, and 1784, a mortification in the extremity of 
the spine and buttocks, was always the sign of a recovery; while 
the same symptom as uniformly preceded death, in a fever which 
prevailed at Modena, in the year 1781.* I shall mention several 
other instances of the same signs being followed by an opposite 
issue in different years, in the late pestilential epidemic of our 
country. 

8th. Neglect to record minute symptoms in the history of 
diseases. Hippocrates and Sydenham are justly exempted from 
this charge against our profession. Had their method of examin- 
ing and describing diseases been generally followed, we should 
not, this day, complain of so much imperfection in our science. 
A disease is a lawless evil. To understand its nature from its 
symptoms, it should be inspected every hour of the day and 
night. It is, during the latter period, fevers most frequently have 
their exacerbations and remissions; and it is only by accommo- 
dating our remedies to them, that the practice of medicine can 
become regular and successful. How much is to be learned from 
sitting up with sick people, may be known from conversing with 
sensible nurses. I have profited by their remarks; and I have often 
imposed their duties upon my pupils, in order, among other 
things, to increase their knowledge of diseases. 

9th. The neglect to discriminate between the remote and 
exciting causes of diseases. Under the influence of this negli- 
gence, the death of many persons from the miasmata which 
produce the yellow fever, has often been ascribed to the full 
meal, the intoxicating draught, the long walk, or the night air, 
which excited them into action. 

loth. The neglect to ascertain the nature, and strength of 

* Burserus, p. 497. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 231 

diseases by the pulse, or an exclusive reliance upon its frequency 
for that purpose, and that too only in morbid affections of the 
sanguiferous system. 

nth. The neglect to employ the passions as remedies in the 
cure of diseases. An accidental paroxysm of joy, fear, or anger, 
has often induced a sudden and favourable crisis in cases of 
doubtful issue. Quacks owe a great deal of their occasional 
success, to their command over the feelings of their patients. 
The advantages to be derived from them might be an hundred 
times greater, were they properly directed by regular bred 
physicians. 

1 2th. An undue reliance upon the powers of nature in curing 
diseases. I have elsewere endeavoured to expose this superstition 
in medicine, and shall in another place, mention some additional 
facts to show its extensive mischief in our science. 

1 3th. The practice among physicians of waiting till diseases 
have evolved their specific characters before they prescribe for 
them, thus allowing them time to form those effusions, and ob- 
structions, which frequently produce immediate death, or a 
train of chronic complaints. 

1 4th. The great and unnecessary number of medicines which 
are used for the cure of diseases. Did we prescribe more for their 
state, and less for their name, a fourth part of the medicines now 
in use, would be sufficient for all the purposes intended by them. 
By thus limiting their number, we should acquire a more perfect 
knowledge of their virtues and doses, and thereby exhibit them 
with more success. 

1 5th. The exhibition of medicines, without a due regard to 
the different stages of diseases. Bark, opium, and mercury, are 
remedies, or poisons, according as they are accommodated, or 
not, to the existing state of the system. The same may be said 
of many of the most simple articles in the materia medica. Bath- 
ing the feet in warm water, often prevents a fever in its forming 
state. The same remedy, when used after the fever is formed, 
often induces delirium, and other symptoms of a dangerous and 
alarming nature. 



232 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

1 6th. An exclusive dependence upon some one medicine, or 
one class of remedies. Bleeding, purges, and vomits, sweating 
medicines, hot and cold water, ice and snow, baths of different 
kinds, opium and bark, crude quicksilver, and calomel, iron and 
copper, acids and alkalies, lime and tar water, fixed air and 
oxygen, have all been used separately by physicians, in diseases 
which required in their occasional changes, the successive appli- 
cation of many different medicines of opposite virtues, or a 
variety of the same class of medicines. This exclusive attach- 
ment to one set of remedies, has not been confined to individual 
physicians. Whole nations are as much distinguished by it, as 
they are by language and manners. In England, cordial and 
sweating medicines; in France, bleeding, injections, and diluting 
drinks; in Germany, alterative medicines; in Italy, cups and 
leeches; in Russia, hot and cold baths; and in China, frictions; 
constitute the predominating and fashionable remedies in all 
their respective diseases. 

iyth. The neglect to inquire after, and record, cures which 
have been performed by time, by accident, or by medicines, 
administered by quacks, or by the friends of sick people. By 
examining the precise condition of the system, and stage of dis- 
eases, in which such remedies have produced their salutary 
effects, and afterwards regulating them by principles, great 
additions might have been made to our stock of medical knowl- 
edge. 

1 8th. The neglect to dissect, and examine, morbid bodies 
after death; and where this has been done, mistaking the effects, 
for the causes of diseases. 

1 9th. The attempts which have been made to establish regu- 
lar modes of practice in medicine, upon experience without 
reasoning, and upon reasoning without experience. 

zoth. The dependent state of physicians, upon public opinion 
for their subsistence. It is this which has checked innovation in 
the practice of medicine, and too often made physicians the 
apothecaries of their patients. To a dependence of our profes- 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 233 

sion upon commerce, we are in part to ascribe the belief of 
the importation of pestilential diseases in nearly all the large 
cities in Europe and America. 

list. The interference of governments in prohibiting the 
use of certain remedies, and inforcing the use of others by law. 
The effect of this mistaken policy has been as hurtful to medi- 
cine, as a similar practice with respect to opinions, has been 
to the Christian religion. 

izd. Conferring exclusive privileges upon bodies of physi- 
cians, and forbidding men, of equal talents and knowledge, 
under severe penalties, from practising medicine within certain 
districts of cities and countries. Such institutions, however 
sanctioned by ancient charters and names, are the bastiles of 
our science. 

23d. The refusal in universities to tolerate any opinions, in 
the private or public exercises of candidates for degrees in 
medicine, which are not taught nor believed by their professors, 
thus restraining a spirit of inquiry in that period of life which 
is most distinguished for ardour and invention in our science. 
It was from a view of the prevalence of this conduct, that 
Dr. Adam Smith, has called universities the "dull repositories 
of exploded opinions." I am happy in being able to exempt the 
university of Pennsylvania, from this charge. Candidates for 
degrees are here not only permitted to controvert the opinions 
of their teachers, but to publish their own, provided they dis- 
cover learning and ingenuity in defending them. 

24th. The last cause I shall mention, which has retarded the 
progress of medicine, is the division of diseases into genera and 
species by means of what has lately received the name of nosol- 
ogy. Upon this part of our subject, I shall be more particular 
than was necessary, under any of the former heads of our lec- 
ture; for no one of the causes, which have been assigned of 
the imperfection of our science, has operated with more effect 
than the nosological arrangement of diseases. To expose its 
unfriendly influence upon medicine, it will be proper first to 



234 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

repeat in part, what I have published in the fourth volume of 
my Inquiries and Observations, before I proceed to mention the 
manner of its operation. 

i st. Nosology presupposes the characters of diseases to be 
as fixed as the characters of animals and plants: but this is far 
from being the case. Animals and plants are exactly the same 
in all their properties, that they were nearly six thousand years 
ago, but who can say the same thing of any one disease? They 
are all changed by time and still more by climate, and a great 
variety of accidental circumstances. But the same morbid state 
of the system often assumes in the course of a few days, all the 
symptoms of a dozen different genera of diseases. Thus a malig- 
nant fever frequently invades every part of the body, and is at 
once, or in succession, an epitome of the whole class of prexiae 
in Dr. Cullen's Synopsis. 

id. The nosological arrangement of diseases has been at- 
tempted from their causes and seats. The remote causes of dis- 
eases all unite in producing but one effect, that is irritation and 
morbid excitement, and of course are incapable of division. The 
proximate cause of diseases, is an unit; for whether it appears 
in the form of convulsion, spasm, a prostration of action, heat, 
or itching, it is alike the effect of simple diseased excitement. 
The impracticability of dividing diseases into genera and species, 
from their seats, will appear when we consider the feeble state 
of sensibility in some of the internal organs, and the want of 
connexion between impression and sensation in others; by which 
means there is often a total absence of the sign of pain, or a 
deceitful and capricious translation of it to another part of the 
body, in many diseases. In the most acute stage of inflammation 
in the stomach, there is frequently no pain, vomiting, nor sick- 
ness. The liver in the East Indies, undergoes a general suppura- 
tion, and sometimes a partial destruction, without pain, or any 
of the common signs of local inflammation. Dr. Chisholm, in 
his essay upon the malignant West India fever, mentions its 
fatal issue in two sailors whom he dissected: in one of whom 
he discovered great marks of inflammation in the lungs, and in 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 235 

the other, a mortification of the right kidney; but in neither of 
them, he adds, was perceived the least sign of disease in those 
viscera, during their sickness.* Baglivi found a stone in the kidney 
of a man who had complained of a pain only in the kidney of the 
opposite side, during his life. I have lost two patients with 
abscesses in the lungs, who complained only of a pain in the 
head. Neither of them had a cough, and one of them had never 
felt any pain in his breast or sides. Many hundred facts of a 
similar nature, are to be met with in the records of medicine. 
Even in those cases where impression does not produce sensa- 
tions in remote parts of the body, it is often so diffused by means 
of what has been happily called, by Dr. Johnson, "an inter- 
communion of sensation," that the precise seat* of a disease is 
seldom known. The affections of the bowels and brain furnish 
many proofs of the truth of this observation. 

Errors in theory, seldom fail of producing errors in practice. 
Nosology has retarded the progress of medicine in the following 
ways. 

i st. It precludes all the advantages which are to be derived 
from attacking diseases, in their forming state, at which time 
they are devoid of their nosological characters, and are most 
easily and certainly prevented or cured. 

zd. It has led physicians to prescribe exclusively for the 
names of diseases, without a due regard to the condition of the 
system. This practice has done the most extensive mischief, 
where a malignant or inflammatory constitution of the atmos- 
phere has produced a single or predominating epidemic, which 
calls for the same class of remedies, under all the modifications 
which are produced by difference in its seat, and exciting causes. 

3d. It multiplies unnecessarily the articles of the materia 
medica, by employing nearly as many medicines, as there are 
forms of disease. 

I know it has been said, that by rejecting nosology, we 
establish indolence in medicine, but the reverse of this assertion 

* Vol. i. p. 184. 



236 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

is true; for if our prescriptions are to be regulated chiefly by the 
force of morbid excitement, and if this force be varied in acute 
diseases by a hundred different circumstances, even by a cloud, 
according to Dr. Lining, lessening, for a few minutes, the light 
and heat of the sun, it follows, that the utmost watchfulness and 
skill will be necessary to accommodate our remedies to the 
changing state of the system. 

I have thus, gentlemen, briefly .pointed out the principal 
causes which have retarded the progress of our science. It re- 
mains now, that I mention the means of promoting its certainty 
and greater usefulness. It will readily occur, that this is to be 
done, by avoiding all the causes, which have produced its present 
state of imperfection. I shall select, from those causes, a few 
that have been hinted at only, and which, from their importance, 
require further amplification. 

i st. Let us strip our profession of every thing that looks like 
mystery and imposture, and clothe medical knowledge in a dress 
so simple and intelligible, that it may become a part of academi- 
cal education in all our seminaries of learning. Truth is simple 
upon all subjects, but upon those which are essential to the 
general happiness of mankind, it is obvious to the meanest 
capacities. There is no man so simple, that cannot be taught 
to cultivate grain, and no woman so devoid of understanding, as 
to be incapable of learning the art of making that grain into 
bread. And shall the means of preserving our health by the cul- 
ture and preparation of aliment, be so intelligible, and yet the 
means of restoring it, when lost, be so abstruse, as to require 
years of study to discover and apply them? To suppose this, 
is to call in question the goodness of the Supreme Being, and to 
believe that he acts without unity and system in all his works. 
In no one of the acts of man do we behold more weakness and 
error, than in our present modes of education. We teach bur 
sons words, at the expense of things. We teach them what was 
done two thousand years ago, and conceal from them what is 
doing every day. We instruct them in the heathen mythology, 
but neglect to teach them the principles of the religion of their 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 237 

country. We teach them to predict eclipses, and the return of 
comets, from which no physical advantages worth naming, have 
ever been derived; but we give them no instruction in the signs 
which precede general and individual diseases. How long shall 
the human mind bend beneath the usages of ancient and bar- 
barous times? When shall we cease to be mere scholars, and 
become wise philosophers, well informed citizens, and useful 
men? 

The essential principles of medicine are very few. They are 
moreover plain. There is not a graduate in the arts, in any of 
our colleges, who does not learn things of more difficulty, than 
a system of just principles in medicine. 

All the morbid effects of heat and cold, of intemperance in 
eating and drinking, and in the exercises of the body and mind, 
might be taught with as much case as the multiplication 
table. 

All the knowledge which is attainable of diseases by the 
pulse, might be acquired at a less expense of time and labor, 
than is spent in committing the contents of the Latin grammar 
to memory. 

The operation of bleeding, might be taught with less trouble 
than is taken to teach boys to draw, upon paper or slate, the 
figures in Euclid. 

A knowledge of the virtues and doses of the most active and 
useful medicines, might be acquired with greater facility, and 
much more pleasure, than the rules for composing syllogisms 
laid down in our systems of logic. 

In support of the truth of the opinions I am now advancing, 
let us take a view of the effects of the simplicity, which has been 
introduced into the art of war, by one of the nations of Europe. 
A few obvious principles have supplied the place of volumes 
upon tactics; and private citizens have become greater generals, 
and peasants more irresistible soldiers in a few weeks, than their 
predecessors in war were, after the instruction and experience 
of fifteen or twenty years. Could changes equally simple and 
general be introduced by means of our schools into the practice 



238 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

of medicine, no arithmetic could calculate its advantages. Mil- 
lions of lives would be saved by it. 

In thus recommending the general diffusion of medical 
knowledge, by making it a part of an academical education, let 
it not be supposed that I wish to see the exercise of medicine 
abolished as a regular profession. Casualties which render opera- 
tions in surgery necessary, and such diseases as occur rarely, 
will always require professional aid; but the knowledge that is 
necessary for these purposes may be soon acquired; and two or 
three persons, separated from other pursuits, would be sufficient 
to apply it to a city consisting of forty thousand people. 

id. To promote the certainty and greater usefulness of our 
science, let us study the premonitory signs of diseases, and apply 
our remedies to them, before they are completely formed. At 
this time they generally yield to the most simple and common 
domestic medicines; for there is the same difference between 
their force, in their forming state, and after they have put forth 
their strength in the reaction of the system, that there is between 
the strength of an infant, and of a full grown man. This impor- 
tant truth has been long, and deeply impressed upon my mind; 
and many of you can witness, that I have often recommended 
it to your attention. To all physical evils I believe there are 
certain precursors, which if known and attended to, in due time, 
would enable us to obviate them. Premonitory signs I am sure 
occur before all diseases. They are most evident in fevers, in the 
gout, in apoplexy, epilepsy, melancholy, and madness. They 
even obtrude themselves upon our notice, as if to demand the 
remedies which are proper to arrest the impending commotions 
in the system. This is more obviously the case in those diseases, 
which, when formed, are difficult to cure. In one of my pub- 
lications in the year 1793, I asserted, that the yellow fever was 
as much under the power of medicine as the influenza, or an 
intermitting fever. This was strictly true in the beginning of the 
epidemic of that year, and continued to be so, until a belief in 
the prevalence of a fever of less danger, produced delays in 
sending for physicians, or negligence in using the simple reme- 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 239 

dies that were recommended in the forming state of the reigning 
epidemic. In our lectures upon the practice of physic, I shall 
mention those remedies, and shall repeat to you the importance 
of watching the exact time in which they may be exhibited with 
safety and success. 

3d. Let our inquiries be directed with peculiar industry and 
zeal, to complete the natural and morbid history of the pulse. 
It is the string which vibrates most readily with discordant 
motions in every part of the body. Were I allowed to coin a 
word, I would call the pulse the nosotneter of the system. There 
is the same difference in the knowledge of diseases which is ob- 
tained by it, and by their other signs, that there is between 
speech, and inarticulate sounds. The eyes and countenance can- 
not always be inspected, without exposing sick people to pain 
and danger from the irritation of light. The tongue cannot be 
seen in children, nor in the delirium of a fever. Its appearance 
moreover is liable to be so changed by aliment and drinks as to 
obliterate the effect of diseases upon it. It is often unsafe to 
preserve the excretions, and when examined, they afford uncer- 
tain marks of the state of the system. None of these objections 
apply to the pulse. It can be felt in persons of all ages, at all times 
of the day and night, and in all diseases, and always without 
any inconvenience to a patient. I shall shortly lay before you the 
facts and reasonings which have been the result of my observa- 
tions upon it. They are as yet limited, and very imperfect; but 
they will serve, I hope, like a distant view of a new and fertile 
country, to excite your desires to explore it, and to add its 
products to the treasures of medicine. 

The fourth and last means of promoting certainty in medi- 
cine, and its more extensive usefulness, is to cherish a belief, 
that they are both attainable and practicable. "Knowledge" it 
has been justly said, "is power, and philosophy, the empire of 
art over nature." By means of the knowledge which has lately 
been obtained, men now visit the upper regions of the air and 
the bottom of the ocean, as if they were a part of their original 
territory. Distance and time have likewise become subject to 



2 4 o SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

their f power, by the invention of instruments for accelerating 
the communication of new and important events. Equally great, 
and far more interesting have been the triumphs of medicine 
within the last thirty years. Fevers have been deprived of their 
mortality by attacking them in their forming state; and where 
this has not been done, they have been made to yield to de- 
pleting, or tonic remedies, where they have been properly timed. 
The smallpox has been disarmed of its remnant of power over 
human life, by means of vaccine inoculation. But medicine has 
lately done more. It has discovered those fevers, which have 
desolated cities and countries, to be derived, in all cases, from 
putrid and local exhalations, and that they are propagated only 
by a morbid constitution of the atmosphere. It is true, this dis- 
covery has not been generally admitted, but the error, which 
is opposed to it, has received a blow from the "publications of 
our countrymen, Dr. Mitchell, Dr. Miller and Mr. Webster, 
from which it cannot recover. Its total destruction will be fol- 
lowed by the same extinction of pestilence, which commerce 
has produced of famine in Europe, by the level it has intro- 
duced of the means of subsistence. The gout, dropsies, hemor- 
rhages, pulmonary consumption, are now cured, when they are 
treated as symptoms of general fever. Cancers are easily pre- 
vented, by the extirpation of tumors in glandular parts of the 
body. The tetanus has seldom resisted the efficacy of stimulating 
medicines, where an exclusive reliance has not been had upon 
any one of them. But modern discoveries have not stopped here. 
They have taught us to renew the motions of life, where they 
appeared to be extinguished by death. Hitherto, resuscitation 
has been confined only to persons, who have been supposed to 
be dead from drowning, or from other accidents; but the time, 
I believe, will come, when the labours of science and humanity 
will be employed in recovering persons, who appear to die from 
other causes. We are authorized to adopt this opinion by the 
late discovery of the causes of animal life, and by the light 
which the external and internal appearances of the body after 
death from fevers, has thrown upon this subject. Motion, which 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 241 

is one of the operations of life, certainly continues, after persons, 
who have had fevers, are supposed to be dead. This is evident, 
in the accumulation of heat in particular parts of the body, in 
the absorption and diffusion of stagnating fluids, in the change 
of the countenance from a gloomy, to a placid form, in the 
occasional appearance of a red colour in one, or in both the 
cheeks, and in the sudden diffusion of a yellow colour over the 
whole or a part of the body, in persons who die of malignant 
bilious fevers. But this motion in the external surface of the 
body has gone much further. Sweats have been observed to take 
place for many hours, and in one instance, several days after 
death, from the maniacal state of fever. The stiffness of the 
limbs, which so soon succeeds death, is probably, in many cases, 
the effect of general convulsion, and may hereafter be discov- 
ered to be nothing but a chronic spasm of the muscular system. 
The internal appearances of the body after death, from fevers, 
still more favour the idea of the possibility of extending the 
means of resuscitation with success to persons supposed to be 
dead from those diseases. I shall hereafter teach you, that death 
from a fever, is induced by one or more of the three following 
causes. 

i st. The disorganization of parts essential to life, by means 
of great excess of morbid excitement, by congestion, inflamma- 
tion, or mortification. 

zd. By such a change in the fluids, as renders them unfit for 
the purposes of life. 

3d. By the exhausted state of the excitability, and excitement 
of the system, which renders it incapable of being acted upon 
by the stimulus of medicine. Death, from the two last causes, 
rarely occurs in acute fevers, which terminate in less than eleven 
days. Dissections show some viscus to be in a state of disorgani- 
zation, nearly in all cases; but this disorganization is often of so 
partial a nature, as to beget a presumption that it might have 
been removed by the usual remedies for resuscitation. Where 
life has appeared to be extinguished by the sudden loss of excite- 
ment or expenditure of excitability, I believe those remedies 



242 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

might often be employed with success. Such cases probably 
occur, where patients appear to die in the paroxysm of an inter- 
mittent, or under the operation of drastic vomits and purges. 
From a review of what has been lately effected by our sci- 
ence, I cannot help admitting with Dr. Hartley, that in that 
happy period, predicted in the Old and New Testaments, when 
religion shall combine its influence upon the passions and con- 
duct of men, with fresh discoveries in medicine, Christian Mis- 
sionaries shall procure the same credit, and kind reception among 
Pagan and Savage nations, by curing diseases by natural means, 
which the Apostles obtained by curing them by supernatural 
power. Yes, the time, I believe, will come, when, from the per- 
fection of our science, men shall be so well acquainted with the 
method of destroying poisons, that they "shall tread upon scor- 
pions and serpents" without being injured by them.* And 
mothers, from their knowledge and 'use of the same antidotes, 
shall cease to restrain "a sucking child from playing on the hole 
of the asp, and the weaned child from putting his hand on the 
cockatrice's den." f Suspended animation, if it should occur 
in that enlightened state of the world, shall no more expose the 
subjects of it to premature interment. Pestilential diseases shall 
then cease to spread terror and death over half the globe; for 
interest and prejudice shall no longer oppose the removal of the 
obvious and offensive causes which produce them. Lazarettos 
shall likewise cease to be the expensive and inhuman monuments 
of error and folly, in medicine and in government. Hospitals 
shall be unknown. The groans of pain, the ravings of madness, 
and the sighs of melancholy shall be heard no more. The cradle 
and the tomb shall no longer be related; for old age shall then 
be universal. Long, long before this revolution in the health and 
happiness of mankind shall arrive, you, and I gentlemen, must 
sleep with our fathers in the silent grave. But a consolation is 
still left to us under the pressure of this reflection. If we cannot 
share in the happiness we have destined for our posterity, we can 

* Luke, x. xix. 
t Isaiah, xi. viii. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 243 

contribute to produce it. For this purpose let us attempt a voyage 
of circumnavigation in medicine, by resurvcying all its branches 
in their connexion with each other. Let no part, nor function 
of the body, and no law of the animal economy, escape a second 
investigation. Let all the remote causes of diseases, and above 
all, let the resources of our profession in the materia medica, 
be subjected to fresh examinations. It is probable many new 
remedies remain yet to be discovered; but most of the old ones 
demand new experiments and observations to determine their 
doses and efficacy. It is impossible to say how much the certainty 
of medicine might be promoted, and its usefulness increased, 
by a more extensive knowledge of the times, place, manner, and 
means of depletion; by abstracting heat from the body by means 
of water and ice, as well as air, and applying it by means of 
vapour, air, oil, salt, sand, and clay, as well as by water; by 
frictions impregnated with medicinal substances; by the applica- 
tion of stimuli to the skin and lower bowels where they cannot 
be retained, or after they have been ineffectually administered 
through the medium of the stomach; by new modes of exercise 
and labour, and more specific times of using them; by means 
of rest; by changes of air, climate, and pursuits in life; by diet; 
by the quality of clothing and forms of dress; by artificial sleep 
and wakcfulness; by pleasure and pain; by simplicity, composi- 
tion, succession, and rotation, in the use of chronic medicines; 
and by the extension of the operations of the mind to the cure 
of diseases. But in vain shall we enlarge our knowledge of all 
the remedies that have been mentioned; nay more, to no purpose 
would an antediluvian age be employed in collecting facts upon 
all the different branches of medicine, unless they can be con- 
nected and applied by principles of some kind. Observation 
without principles is nothing but empiricism: and however much 
the contradictions and uncertainty of theories may be com- 
plained of, I believe much greater uncertainty and contradic- 
tions will be found in the controversies among physicians con- 
cerning what are said to be facts, and that too upon subjects in 
which the senses alone are employed to judge between truth and 



244 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

error. It is by means of principles in medicine, that a physician 
can practise with safety to his patients, and satisfaction to him- 
self. They impart caution and boldness alternately to his pre- 
scriptions, and supply the want of experience in all new cases. 
Between such a physician, and the man who relies exclusively 
upon experience, there is the same difference that there was 
between Sir Isaac Newton, after he completed his discoveries in 
light and colours, and the artist who manufactured the glasses, 
by which that illustrious philosopher exemplified his principles 
in optics. After this account of the necessity and advantages 
of principles in medicine, you will not be surprised, gentlemen, 
at my declaring, that both duty and inclination unite to de- 
termine me to teach them from this chair. I know from experi- 
ence, the consequences of contending, in this work, with ancient 
prejudices and popular names in medicine, with abilities greatly 
inferior to the contest. But I have not laboured in vain. If I have 
not removed any part of the rubbish which surrounded the 
fabric of our science, nor suggested any thing better in its place, 
I feel a consolation in believing, that I have taught many of 
your predecessors to do both, by exciting in them a spirit of 
inquiry, and a disposition to controvert old and doubtful opin- 
ions, by the test of experiments. I have only to request you to 
imitate their example. Think, read, and observe. Observe, read, 
and think, for yourselves. 



OBSERVATIONS AND REASONING 
IN MEDICINE 

A Lecture 



PHYSICIANS HAVE been divided into empirics and dogmatists. The 
former pretend to be guided by experience, and the latter by 
reasoning alone in their prescriptions. I object to both when 
separately employed. They lead alike to error and danger in 
the practice of physic. I shall briefly point out the evils which 
result from an exclusive reliance upon each of them. 

1. Empiricism presupposes a correct and perfect knowledge 
of all the diseases of the human body, however varied they may 
be in their symptoms, seats, and force, by age, habit, sex, 
climate, season, and aliment. Now, it is well known, that the 
longest life is insufficient for the purpose of acquiring that 
knowledge. This will appear more evident, when we consider 
that it must be seated, exclusively, in the memory; a faculty 
which is the most subject to decay, and the least faithful to us 
of any of the faculties of the mind. Few physicians, I believe, 
ever recollect, perfectly, the phenomena of any disease more 
than two years, and, perhaps, for a much shorter time, when 
they are engaged in extensive business. 

2. Neither can the defect of experience, nor the decay, or 
weakness of the memory in one physician, be supplied by the 
experience and observations of others. Few men see the same 
objects through the same medium. How seldom do we find the 
histories of the same disease, or of the effects of the same medi- 
cine to agree, even when they are related by physicians of the 



246 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

most respectable characters for talents and integrity! An hun- 
dred circumstances, from the difference of treatment, produce a 
difference in the symptoms and issue of similar diseases, and in 
the operation of the same medicines. The efforts of nature, are, 
moreover, often mistaken for the effects of a favourite prescrip- 
tion; and, in some instances, the crisis of a disease has been 
ascribed to medicines which have been thrown out of a window, 
or emptied behind a fire. 

3. If it were possible to obviate all the inconveniences and 
dangers from solitary experience which have been mentioned, an 
evil would arise from the nature of the human mind, which 
would defeat all the advantages that might be expected from it. 
This evil is a disposition to reason upon all medical subjects, 
without being qualified by education for that purpose. As well 
might we attempt to control the motions of the heart by the 
action of the will, as to suspend, for a moment, that operation 
of the mind, which consists in drawing inferences from facts. 
To observe, is to think, and to think, is to reason in medicine. 
Hence we find theories in the writings of the most celebrated 
practical physicians, even of those who preface their works by 
declaiming against idle and visionary speculations in our science; 
but, I will add, further, that I believe no empiric ever gave a 
medicine without cherishing a theoretical indication of cure in 
his mind. Some acrid humour is to be obtunded, some viscid 
fluid is to be thinned, some spasm is to be resolved, or debility 
in some part of the body is to be obviated, in all his prescriptions. 
To an exclusive reliance upon theory in medicine, there are an 
equal number of objections. I shall only mention a few of 
them. 

1. Our imperfect knowledge of the structure of the human 
body, and of the laws of the animal economy. 

2. The limited extent of the human understanding, which 
acquires truth too slowly to act with effect, in the numerous and 
rapid exigencies of diseases. 

3. The influence of the imagination and passions, upon the 
understanding in its researches after truth. An opinion becomes 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 247 

dear to us by being generated in our imaginations; and contra- 
diction, by inflaming the passions, increases our attachment to 
error. It is for these reasons, we observe great, and even good 
men, so zealously devoted to their opinions, and the practice 
founded upon them, even after they have been exposed and 
refuted by subsequent discoveries in medicine. 

From this view of the comparative insufficiency of experi- 
ence and theory, in our science, it will be impossible to decide 
in favour of either of them in their separate states. The empirics 
and dogmatists have mutually charged each other with the want 
of successful practice. I believe them both, and will add, further, 
if an inventory of the mischief that has been done by empirics, 
within the present century, whether they acted under the cover 
of a diploma, or imposed upon the public by false and pompous 
advertisements, could be made out, and compared with the mis- 
chief which has been done by a practice in medicine, founded 
upon a belief in the archeus of Van Helmont, the anima medica 
of Stahl, the spasm of Hoffman, the morbid acrimonies of Boer- 
haave, the putrefaction of Cullen, and the debility of Brown, 
as the proximate causes of diseases, I am satisfied neither sect 
would have any cause of exultation, or triumph. Both would 
have more reason to lament the immense additions they have 
made to pestilence and the sword in their ravages upon the 
human race. 

It is peculiar to man, to divide what was intended by the 
Author of nature to be indivisible. Religion and morals, govern- 
ment and liberty, nay, even reason and the senses, so happily 
paired by the Creator of the world, in the order in which they 
have been mentioned, have each been disunited by the caprice 
and folly of man. The evils which have arisen from this breach 
in the symmetry of the divine government cannot now be enu- 
merated. It belongs to our present subject, only to take notice 
that the same hostile disposition in the human mind, to order 
and utility, appears in the attempts that have been made to 
separate experience and reasoning in medicine. They are neces- 
sarily united, and it is only by preserving and cultivating their 



248 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

union, that our science can be made to convey extensive and 
lasting blessings to mankind. 

The necessity of combining theory and practice in medicine, 
may be illustrated, by the advantages which other sciences have 
derived from the union of principles and facts. The numerous 
benefits and pleasures we enjoy from the glasses which have 
been made use of to extend our vision to distant and minute 
objects, are the results of a knowledge of the principles of optics. 
The many useful inventions which are employed to shorten and 
facilitate labor, are the products of a knowledge of the principles 
of mechanics and hydraulics. The exploits of mariners in sub- 
duing the ocean, and all the benefits that have occurred to the 
world from the connection of the extremities of our globe by 
means of commerce, are the fruits of a knowledge in the prin- 
ciples of navigation. Equally great have been the advantages of 
theory in the science of medicine. It belongs to theory to accu- 
mulate facts; and hence we find the greatest stock of them is 
always possessed by speculative physicians. While simple ob- 
servation may be compared to a power which creates an alpha- 
bet,' theory resembles a power which arranges all its component 
parts in such a manner, as to produce words and ideas. But 
theory does more. It supplies in a great degree the place of 
experience, and thereby places youth and old age nearly upon 
a footing in the profession of medicine; for, with just principles, 
it is no more necessary for a young physician to see all the 
diseases of the human body before he prescribes for them, than 
it is for a mariner, who knows the principles of navigation, to 
visit all the ports in the world, in order to conduct his vessel 
in safety to them. 

To illustrate still further the benefits of theory, I shall take 
notice of its influence upon the use of several celebrated and 
popular remedies. 

Accident probably first suggested the use of cool air in the 
cure of fevers. For many years it was prescribed indiscriminately 
in every form and grade of those diseases, during which time it 
did as much harm as good. It was not until chemistry taught 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 249 

us that its good effects depended wholly upon its abstracting 
the heat of the body, that its application was limited to those 
fevers only, which are accompanied with preternatural heat, 
and excessive action in the blood-vessels. Since the use of cool 
air has been regulated by this principle, its effects have been 
uniformly salutary in inflammatory fevers. 

While the Peruvian bark was believed to act as a specific in 
the cure of intermittents, it was often an ineffectual, and some- 
times a destructive medicine; but since its tonic and astringent 
virtues have been ascertained, its injurious effects have been 
restrained, and its salutary operation" extended to all those fevers, 
whether intermitting, remitting, or continual, in which a feeble 
morbid action takes place in the sanguiferous system. 

Opium was formerly used only as an antidote to wakefulness 
and pain, during which time it often increased the danger and 
mortality of diseases; but since its stimulating virtues have been 
discovered, its exhibition has been regulated by the degree of 
excitement in the system, and hence it is now administered with 
uniform safety, or success. 

Mercury was prescribed empirically for many years in the 
cure of several diseases, in which it often did great mischief; 
but since it has been discovered to act as a general stimulant 
and evacuant, such a ratio has been established between it, and 
the state of diseases, as to render it a safe and nearly an universal 
medicine. 

In answer to what has been delivered in favor of the union 
of experience and reasoning in medicine, it has been said, that 
the most celebrated physicians, in all ages, have been empirics; 
among whom they class Hippocrates and Sydenham. This charge 
against the illustrious fathers of ancient and modern medicine 
is not just, for they both reasoned upon the causes, symptoms, 
and cure of diseases; and their works contain more theory, than 
is to be met with in many of the most popular systems of medi- 
cine. Their theories, it is true, are in many instances erroneous; 
but they were restrained from perverting their judgments, and 
impairing the success of their practice, by their great experience, 



2 5 o SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

and singular talents for extensive and accurate observation. This 
defence of Hippocrates and Sydenham does not apply to com- 
mon empirics. They cure only by chance; for, by false reasoning, 
they detract from the advantages of their solitary experience. It 
is true, they often acquire reputation and wealth, but this must 
be ascribed to the credulity of their patients, and to the zeal with 
which they justify their preference of such physicians, by mul- 
tiplying and exaggerating their cures, or by palliating, or denying 
their mistakes. It is for this reason that it has been well said, 
"Quacks are the greatest liars in the world, except their patients/' 

We are further told, in favour of empiricism, that physicians 
of the first character have acknowledged the fallacy of prin- 
ciples in medicine. I cannot assent to the truth of this assertion. 
It is contradicted by the history of our science ^in all ages and 
countries. The complaints of its fallacy, and even of its uncer- 
tainty, originate, I believe, in most cases, in ignorance, indolence, 
or imposture; and therefore were never uttered by men of emi- 
nence and integrity in our profession. 

In the progress of medicine towards its present state of im- 
provement, different theories or systems have been proposed by 
different authors. You will find a minute and entertaining ac- 
count of such of them as have been handed down to us from 
antiquity in Dr. Black's History of Medicine. They are all 
necessarily imperfect, inasmuch as none of them embraces the 
numerous discoveries in anatomy, physiology, chemistry, materia 
medica, and natural philosophy, which have been made within 
the two last centuries in Europe. The systems which divide the 
physicians of the present day, are those of Dr. Stahl, Dr. Boer- 
haave, Dr. Cullen, and Dr. Brown. 

i . Dr. Stahl lived and wrote in a country remarkable for the 
simplicity of the manners of its inhabitants. Their diseases par- 
took of their temperate mode of living, and were often cured 
by the operations of nature, without the aid of medicine; hence 
arose Dr. Stahl's opinion of the vires naturae medicatrices, or 
of the existence of an anima medica, whose business it was to 
watch over the health of the body. We shall show, therefore, 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 251 

the error of these supposed healing powers in nature, and the 
extreme danger of trusting to them in the dangerous and com- 
plicated diseases, which are produced by the artificial customs 
of civilized life. 

2. Dr. Boerhaave lived and wrote in a country in which a 
moist atmosphere, and an excessive quantity of unwholesome 
aliment, had produced an immense number of diseases of the 
skin. These were supposed to arise from an impure state of the 
blood, and hence lentor, tenuity, and acrimony in that fluid 
were supposed to be the proximate causes of all the diseases of 
the human body. 

3. Dr. Cullen lived and wrote in a country in which indo- 
lence and luxury had let loose a train of diseases which ap- 
peared to be seated chiefly in the nervous system, and hence 
we find the laws of that system have been investigated and 
ascertained by him with a success which has no parallel in the 
annals of medicine. In his concentrated views of the nervous 
system he has overlooked, or but slightly glanced at the pathol- 
ogy of the bloodvessels, and by adopting the nosology of 
Sauvage, Linnxus, and Vogel, he has unfortunately led physi- 
cians to prescribe for the names of diseases, instead of their proxi- 
mate cause. 

4. In the system of Dr. Brown, we find clear and consistent 
views of the causes of animal life, also just opinions of the action 
of heat and cold, of stimulating, and what are called sedative 
medicines, and of the influence of the passions in the production 
and cure of diseases. But while he has thus shed light upon some 
parts of medicine, he has thrown a shade upon others. I shall 
hereafter take notice of all the errors of his system. At present 
I shall only say, I shall not admit with him, debility to be a 
disease. It is only its predisposing cause. Disease consists in 
morbid excitement, and is always of a partial nature: of course 
I shall reject his doctrine of equality of excitement in the morbid 
states of the body, and maintain, that the cure of diseases con- 
sists simply in restoring the equal and natural diffusion of ex- 
citement throughout every part of the system. If Dr. Cullen did 



252 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

harm by directing the attention of physicians, by means of his 
nosology, only to the names of diseases, how much more mischief 
has been done by Dr. Brown, by reducing them nearly to one 
class, and accommodating his prescriptions to the reverse state 
of the body, of that which constitutes their proximate cause. 

A perfect system of medicine may be compared to a house, 
the different stories of which have been erected by different 
architects. The illustrious physicians who have been named, 
have a large claim upon our gratitude, for having, by their great, 
and successive labours, advanced the building to its present 
height. It belongs to the present and future generations to place 
a roof upon it, and thereby to complete the fabric of medicine. 

In the following course of lectures I shall adopt such prin- 
ciples of Dr. Boerhaave, Dr. Cullen, and Dr. Brawn, as I believe 
to be true, and shall add to them such others, as have been 
suggested to me, by my own observations and reflections. 

If, in delivering new opinions, I should be so unfortunate as 
to teach any thing, which subsequent reflection or observation 
should discover to be erroneous, I shall publicly retract it. I am 
aware how much I shall suffer by this want of stability in error, 
but I have learned from one of my masters to "esteem truth the 
only knowledge, and that laboring to defend an error, is only 
striving to be more ignorant." * 

Upon those parts of our course on which I am unable to 
deliver principles, I shall lay before you a simple detail of facts. 
Our labor in this business will not be lost, for, however long 
those facts may appear to lie in a confused and solitary state, 
they will sooner or later unite in that order and relation to each 
other which was established at the creation of the world. From 
this union of prerelated truths, will arise, as some future period, 
a complete system of principles in medicine. 

We live, gentlemen, in a revolutionary age. Our science has 
caught the spirit of the times, and more improvements have been 

* The Rev. Dr. Samuel Finley many years master of a large academy 
in Nottingham in Maryland, and afterwards President of the College of 
New-Jersey. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 253 

made in all its branches, within the last twenty years, than had 
been made in a century before. From these events, so auspicious 
to medicine, may we not cherish a hope, that our globe is about 
to undergo those happy changes, which shall render it a more 
safe and agreeable abode to man, and thereby prepare it to receive 
the blessing of universal health and longevity; for premature 
deaths seem to have arisen from the operation of that infinite 
goodness which delivers from evils to come. 



MEDICINE AMONG THE INDIANS 
OF NORTH AMERICA 

A Discussion 



You WILL readily anticipate the difficulty of dping justice to 
this subject. How shall we distinguish between the original 
diseases of the Indians and those contracted from their inter- 
course with the Europeans? By what arts shall we persuade 
them to discover their remedies? And lastly, how shall we come 
at the knowledge of facts in that cloud of errors, in which the 
credulity of the Europeans, and the superstition of the Indians 
have involved both their diseases and remedies? These difficulties 
serve to increase the importance of our subject. If I should not be 
able to solve them, perhaps I may lead the way to more success- 
ful endeavours for that purpose. 

I shall first limit the tribes of Indians who are to be the ob- 
jects of this inquiry, to those who inhabit that part of North 
America which extends from the 30th to the 6oth degree of 
latitude. When we exclude the Esquimaux, who inhabit the 
shores of Hudson's Bay, we shall find a general resemblance in 
the colour, manners and state of society, among all the tribes 
of Indians who inhabit the extensive tract of country above- 
mentioned. 

Civilians have divided nations into savage, barbarous, and 
civilized. The savage, live by fishing and hunting. The bar- 
barous, by pasturage or cattle; and the civilized by agriculture. 
Each of these is connected together in such a manner, that the 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 255 

whole appear to form different parts of a circle. Even the 
manners of the most civilized nations partake of those of the 
savage. It would seem as if liberty and indolence were the high- 
est pursuits of man; and these are enjoyed in their greatest per- 
fection by savages, or in the practice of customs which resemble 
those of savages. 

The Indians of North America partake chiefly of the man- 
ner of savages. In the earliest accounts we have of them, we 
find them cultivating a spot of ground. The maize is an original 
grain among them. The different dishes of it which are in use 
among the white people still retain Indian names. 

It will be unnecessary to show that the Indians live in a state 
of society adapted to all the exigencies of their mode of life. 
Those who look for the simplicity and perfection of the state 
of nature, must seek it in systems, as absurd in philosophy, as 
they are delightful in poetry. 

Before we attempt to ascertain the number or history of the 
diseases of the Indians, it will be necessary to inquire into those 
customs among them which we know influence diseases. For 
this purpose I shall, 

First, mention a few facts which relate to the birth and treat- 
ment of their children. 

Secondly, I shall speak of their diet. 

Thirdly, Of the customs which are peculiar to the sexes, 
And, 

Fourthly, Of those customs which are common to them 
both.* 

* Many of the facts contained in the Natural History of Medicine 
among the Indians in this Inquiry, are taken from La Hontan and 
Charlevoix's histories of Canada; but the most material of them are 
taken from persons who had lived, or travelled among the Indians. The 
author acknowledges* himself indebted in a particular manner to Mr. 
Edward Hand, surgeon in the i8th regiment, afterwards brigadier gen- 
eral in the army of the United States, who, during several years' resi- 
dence at Fort Pitt, directed his inquiries into their customs, diseases, and 
remedies, with a success that does equal honour to his ingenuity and 
diligence. 



256 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

I. Of the birth and treatment of their children. 

Much of the future health of the body depends upon its 
original stamina. A child born of healthy parents always brings 
into the world a system formed by nature to resist the causes 
of diseases. The treatment of children among the Indians, tends 
to secure this hereditary firmness of constitution. Their first 
food is their mother's milk. To harden them against the action 
of heat and cold (the natural enemies of health and life among 
the Indians) they are plunged every day in cold water. In order 
to facilitate their being moved from place to place, and at the 
same time to preserve their shape they are tied to a board, where 
they lie on their backs for six, ten, or eighteen months. A child 
generally sucks its mother till it is two years old, and sometimes 
longer. It is easy to conceive how much vigour their bodies must 
acquire from this simple, but wholesome nourishment. The appe- 
tite we sometimes observe in children for flesh is altogether 
artificial. The peculiar irritability of the system in infancy, for- 
bids stimulating aliment of all kinds. Nature never calls for 
animal food till she has provided the child with those teeth which 
are necessary to divide it. 1 shall not undertake to determine how 
far the wholesome quality of the mother's milk is increased by 
her refusing the embraces of her husband, during the time of 
giving suck. 

II. The diet of the Indians is of a mixed nature, being partly 
animal and partly vegetable; their animals are wild, and therefore 
easy of digestion. As the Indians are naturally more disposed to 
the indolent employment of fishing than hunting in summer, so 
we find them living more upon fish than land animals, in that 
season of the year. Their vegetables consist of roots and fruits, 
mild in themselves or capable of being made so by the action 
of fire. Although the interior parts of our continent abound 
with salt springs, yet I cannot find that the Indians used salt in 
their diet, rill they were instructed to do so by the Europeans. 
The small quantity of fixed alkali contained in the ashes on 
which they roasted their meat, could not add much to its stim- 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 257 

dating quality. They preserve their meat from putrefaction, by 
cutting it into small pieces, and exposing it in summer to the 
sun, and in winter to the frost. In the one case its moisture is 
dissipated, and in the other so frozen, that it cannot undergo 
the putrefactive process. In dressing their meat, they are careful 
to preserve its juices. They generally prefer it in the form of 
soups. Hence we find, that among them the use of the spoon 
preceded that of the knife and fork. They take the same pains 
to preserve the juice of their meat when they roast it, by turn- 
ing it often. The efficacy of this animal juice in dissolving meat 
in the stomach, has not been equalled by any of those sauces or 
liquors which modern luxury has mixed with it for that pur- 
pose. 

The Indians have no set time for eating, but obey the gentle 
appetites of nature as often as they are called by them. After 
whole days spent in the chase or in war, they often commit 
those excesses in eating, to which long abstinence cannot fail 
of prompting them. It is common to see them spend three or four 
hours in satisfying their hunger. This is occasioned not more by 
the quantity they eat, than by the pains they take in masticating 
it. They carefully avoid drinking water in their marches, from 
an opinion that it lessens their ability to bear fatigue. 

III. We now come to speak of those customs which are 
peculiar to the sexes. And, first, of those which belong to the 
WOMEN. They are doomed by their husbands to such domestic 
labour as gives a firmness to their bodies, bordering upon the 
masculine. Their menses seldom begin to flow before they are 
eighteen to twenty years of age, and generally cease before they 
are forty. They have them in small quantities, but at regular 
intervals. They seldom marry till they are about twenty. The 
constitution has now acquired a vigour, which enables it the 
better to support the convulsions of child-bearing. This custom 
likewise guards against a premature old age. Doctor Bancroft 
ascribes the haggard looks the loose hanging breasts and the 
prominent bellies of the Indian women at Guiana, entirely to 



258 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

their bearing children too early.* Where marriages are unfruitful 
(which is seldom the case) a separation is obtained by means of 
an easy divorce; so that they are unacquainted with the dis- 
quietudes which sometimes arise from barrenness. During preg- 
nancy, the women are exempted from the more laborious parts 
of their duty: hence miscarriages rarely happen among them. 
Nature is their only midwife. Their labours are short, and 
accompanied with little pain. Each woman is delivered in a 
private cabbin, without so much as one of her own sex to attend 
her. After washing herself in cold water, she returns in a few 
days to her usual employments; so that she knows nothing of 
those accidents which proceed from the carelessness or ill man- 
agement of mid wives; or those weaknesses which arise from a 

month's confinement in a warm room. It is remarkable that there 

* 

is hardly a period in the interval between the eruption and the 
ceasing of the menses, in which they are not pregnant or giving 
suck. This is the most natural state of the constitution during 
that interval; and hence we often find it connected with the best 
state of health, in the women of civilized nations. 

The customs peculiar to the Indian MEN, consist chiefly in 
those employments which are necessary to preserve animal life, 
and to defend their nation. These employments arc hunting and 
war, each of which is conducted in a manner that tends to call 
forth every fibre into exercise, and to ensure them the possession 
of the utmost possible health. In times of plenty and peace, we 
see them sometimes rising from their beloved indolence, and shak- 
ing off its influence by the salutary exercises of dancing and 
swimming. The Indian men seldom marry before they are thirty 
years of age: They no doubt derive considerable vigour from 
this custom; for while they are secured by it from the enervating 
effects of the premature dalliance of love, they may ensure more 
certain fruitfulness to their wives, and entail more certain health 
upon their children. Tacitus describes the same custom among 
the Germans, and attributes to it the same good effects. "Sera 
juvenum venus, eoque inexhausta pubertas; nee virgines festinan- 

* Natural History of Guiana. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 259 

tur; eadem juventa, similis proceritas, pares validique miscentur; 
ac robora parentum libcri referunt." * 

Among the Indian men, it is deemed a mark of heroism to 
bear the most exquisite pain without complaining; upon this 
account they early inure themselves to burning part of their 
bodies with fire, or cutting them with sharp instruments. No 
young man can be admitted to the honors of manhood or war, 
who has not acquitted himself well in these trials of patience and 
fortitude. It is easy to conceive how much this contributes to 
give a tone to the nervous system, which renders it less subject 
to the occasional causes of diseases. 

IV. We come now to speak of those customs which are 
common to both sexes: These are PAINTING, and use of the COLD 
HATH. The practice of anointing the body with oil is common 
to the savages of all countries; in warm climates it is said to 
promote longevity, by checking excessive perspiration. "The 
Indians generally use bear's grease mixed with a clay, which 
bears the greatest resemblance to the colour of their skins. This 
pigment serves to lessen the sensibility of the extremities of the 
nerves; it moreover fortifies them against the action of those 
exhalations, which we shall mention hereafter, as a considerable 
source of their diseases. The COLD BATH likewise fortifies the 
body, and renders it less subject to those diseases which arise 
from the extremes and vicissitudes of heat and cold. We shall 
speak hereafter of the Indian manner of using it. 

It is a practice among the Indians never to drink before 
dinner, when they work or travel. Experience teaches, that filling 
the stomach with cold water in the forenoon, weakens the 
appetite, and makes the system more sensible of heat and 
fatigue. 

The state of society among the Indians excludes the influ- 
ence of most of those passions which disorder the body. The 

* Caesar, in his history of the Gallic war, gives the same account of 
the ancient Germans. His words are "Qui diutissimi impubcrcs per- 
manserunt, maximam inter suos ferunt laudem: hoc ali staturam, ali vires, 
nervasque confirmari putant." Lib. vi. xxi. 



260 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

turbulent effects of anger are concealed in deep and lasting re- 
sentments. Envy and ambition are excluded by their equality of 
power and property. Nor is it necessary that the perfections of 
the whole sex should be ascribed to one, to induce them to 
marry. "The weakness of love (says Dr Adam Smith) which is 
so much indulged in ages of humanity and politeness, is regarded 
among savages as the most unpardonable effeminacy. A young 
man would think himself disgraced for ever, if he shewed the 
least preference of one woman above another, or did not express 
the most complete indifference, both about the time when, and 
the person to whom, he was to be married." * Thus are they 
exempted from those violent or lasting diseases, which accom- 
pany the several stages of such passions in both sexes among 
civilized nations. 

It is remarkable that there are no deformed Indians. Some 
have suspected from this circumstance, that they put their de- 
formed children to death; but nature here acts the part of an 
unnatural mother. The severity of the Indian manners destroys 
them.f 

From a review of the customs of the Indians, we need not be 
surprised at the stateliness, regularity of features, and dignity 
of aspect by which they are characterised. Where we observe 
these among ourselves, there is always a presumption of their 
being accompanied with health, and a strong constitution. The 
circulation of the blood is more languid in the Indians than in 
persons who are in the constant exercise of the habits of civilised 
life. Out of eight Indian men whose pulses I once examined at 
the wrists, I did not meet with one in whom the artery beat more 
than sixty-four strokes in a minute. 

The marks of old age appear more early among Indian, than 
among civilized nations. 

* Theory of Moral Sentiments. 

t Since the intercourse of the white people with the Indians, we find 
some of them deformed in their limbs. This deformity, upon inquiry, 
appears to be produced by those accidents, quarrels, &c. which have been 
introduced among them by spirituous liquors. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 261 

Having finished our inquiry into the physical customs of the 
Indians, we shall now proceed to inquire into their diseases. 

A celebrated professor of anatomy has asserted, that we 
could not tell by reasoning a priori, that the body was mortal, 
so intimately woven with its texture are the principles of life. 
Lord Bacon declares, that the only cause of death which is natu- 
ral to man, is that from old age; and complains of the imperfec- 
tion of physic, in not being able to guard the principle of life, 
until the whole of the oil that feeds it is consumed. We cannot 
admit of this proposition of our noble philosopher. In the in- 
ventory of the grave in every country, we find more of the spoils 
of youth and manhood than of age. This must be attributed to 
moral as well as physical causes. 

We need only recollect the custom among the Indians, of 
sleeping in the open air in a variable climate the alternate action 
of heat and cold upon their bodies, to which the warmth of their 
cabins exposes them their long marches their excessive exer- 
cise their intemperance in eating, to which their long fasting, 
and their public feasts naturally prompt them; and, lastly, the 
vicinity of their habitations to the banks of rivers, in order to 
discover the empire of diseases among them in every stage of 
their lives. They have in vain attempted to elude the general 
laws of mortality, while their mode of life subjects them to these 
remote, but certain causes of diseases. 

From what we know of the action of these potentix nocentes 
upon the human body, it will hardly be necessary to appeal to 
facts to determine that FEVERS constitute the only diseases among 
the Indians. These fevers are occasioned by the sensible and in- 
sensible qualities of the air. Those which are produced by cold, 
are of the inflammatory kind, such as pleurisies, peripneunionies, 
and rheumatisms. Those which are produced by the insensible 
qualities of the air, or by putrid exhalations, are intermitting, re- 
mitting, and inflammatory, according as the exhalations are com- 
bined with more or less heat or cold. The DYSENTERY (which is 
an Indian disease) comes under the class of fevers. It appears to 
be the febris introversa of Dr. Sydenham. 



t6i SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

The Indians are subject to ANIMAL and VEGETABLE POISONS. 
The effects of these upon the body, are in some degree analogous 
to the exhalations we have mentioned. When they do not bring 
on sudden death, they produce, according to their malignity, 
either an inflammatory or putrid fever. 

The SMALL POX and the VENEREAL DISEASE were communi- 
cated to the Indians in North-America by the Europeans. Nor 
can I find that they were ever subject to the SCURVY. Whether 
this was obviated by their method of preserving their flesh, or 
by their mixing it at all times with vegetables, I shall not under- 
take to determine. Dr Maclurg ascribes to fresh meat an anti- 
septic quality.* The peculiar customs and manners of life among 
the Indians, seem to have exempted them from these, as well 
as all other diseases of the fluids. The leprosy, elephantiasis, 
scurvy, and venereal disease, appear to be different modifications 
of the same primary disorder. The same causes produce them in 
every age and country. They are diversified like plants by cli- 
mate and nourishment. They all sprung originally from a moist 
atmosphere and unwholesome diet; hence we read of their pre- 
vailing so much in the middle centuries, when the principal parts 
of Europe were overflowed with water, and the inhabitants 
lived entirely on fish, and a few unwholesome vegetables. The 
abolition of the feudal system in Europe, by introducing free- 
dom, introduced at the same time agriculture; which by multi- 
plying the fruits of the earth lessened the consumption of animal 
food, and thus put a stop to these disorders. The elephantiasis 
is almost unknown in Europe. The leprosy is confined chiefly 
to the low countries of Africa. The plica polonica once so com- 
mon in Poland, is to be found only in books of medicine. The 
small pox is no longer a fatal disorder, when the body is pre- 
pared for its reception by a vegetable regimen. Even the plague 
itself is losing its sting. It is hardly dreaded at this time in Turkey; 
and its very existence is preserved there by the doctrine of 
fatalism, which prevails among the inhabitants of that country. 

* Experiments on the Bile, and Reflections on the Biliary Secretion. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 263 

It may serve as a new and powerful motive against political 
slavery to observe, that it is connected with those diseases which 
most deform and debase the human body, it may likewise serve 
to enhance the blessings of liberty, to trace its effects, in eradi- 
cating such loathsome and destructive disorders.* 

I have heard of two or three cases of the GOUT among the 
Indians, but it was only among those who had learned the use 

* Muratori, in his Antiquities of Italy in the middle ages, describes 
the greatest part of Europe as overflowed with water. The writings of 
the historians of those ages are full of the physical and political miseries 
which prevailed during those centuries. The whole of the diseases we 
have mentioned, raged at one time in all the countries of Europe. In the 
ninth century there were 19,000 hospitals for lepers only, in Christendom. 
Louis VIII. king of France, in the year 1227, bequeathed legacies to 2000 
leprous hospitals in his own kingdom. The same diet, and the same 
dampness of soil and air, produced the same effects in South-America. 
The venereal disease probably made its appearance at the same time in 
South America and Naples. (Precis de 1'histoire physique des terns, par 
M. Raymond.) The leprosy and scurvy still prevail in the northern parts 
of Europe, where the manner of living, among the inhabitants, still bears 
some resemblance to that which prevailed in the middle centuries. Pon- 
topiddan's natural history of Norway. Between the years 1006 and 1680, 
we read of the plague being epidemic fifty-two times throughout all 
Europe. The situation of Europe is well known during the fourteenth 
century: every country was in arms; agriculture was neglected; nourish- 
ment of all kinds was scanty and unwholesome; no wonder, therefore, 
that we read of the plague being fourteen times epidemic in Europe 
during that period. In proportion as the nations of Europe have become 
civilized, and cultivated the earth, together with the arts of peace, this 
disorder has gradually mitigated. It prevailed only six times in the six- 
teenth, and five times in the seventeenth centuries. It made its last gen- 
eral appearance in the year 1680. It has occasionally visited several cities 
in Europe within the last century, but has raged with much less violence 
than formerly. It is highly probable its very existence would be destroyed, 
could the inhabitants of Turkey (where it is at all times endemic) be 
prevailed upon to use the same precautions to prevent its spreading, which 
have been found successful in other parts of Europe. The British, and 
other foreigners, who reside at Constantinople, escape the plague more 
by avoiding all intercourse with persons, houses, clothes, &c. infected 
with the disorder, than by any peculiarities in their diet or manners. The 
use of wine alone does not preserve them from the infection, we learn 
from the history of the Armenians, who drink large quantities of wine; 
and yet, from their belief in the doctrine of fatalism, perish in the same 
proportion as the Turks. 



264 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

of rum from the white people. A question naturally occurs here, 
and that is, why does not the gout appear more frequently among 
that class of people, who consume the greatest quantity of rum 
among ourselves? To this I answer, that the effects of this liquor 
upon those enfeebled people, are too sudden and violent, to 
admit of their being thrown upon the extremities; as we know 
them to be among the Indians. They appear only in visceral 
obstructions, and a complicated train of chronic diseases. Thus 
putrid miasmata are sometimes too strong to bring on a fever, 
but produce instant debility and death. The gout is seldom 
heard of in Russia, Denmark, or Poland. Is this occasioned by 
the vigour of constitution peculiar to the inhabitants of those 
northern countries? or is it caused by their excessive use of 
spirituous liquors, which produce the same chrpnic complaints 
among them, which we said were common among the lower 
class of people in this country? The familiarity of their diseases 
makes the last of these suppositions the most probable. The 
effects of wine, like tyranny in a well formed government, are 
felt first in the extremities; while spirits, like a bold invader, 
seize at once upon the vitals of the constitution. 

After much inquiry, I have not been able to find a single 
instance of MADNESS, MELANCHOLY, or FATUITY among the In- 
dians; nor can I find any accounts of diseases from WORMS among 
them. Worms are common to most animals; they produce dis- 
eases only in weak, or increase them in strong constitutions.* 
Hence they have no place in the nosological systems of physic. 
Nor does DENTITION appear to be a disorder among the Indians. 
The facility with which the healthy children of healthy parents 
cut their teeth among civilized nations, gives us reason to con- 
clude that the Indian children never suffer from this quarter. 

The Indians appear moreover to be strangers to diseases and 
pains in the teeth. 

* Indian children are not exempted from worms. It is common with 
the Indians, when a fever in their children is ascribed by the white people 
to worms, (from their being discharged occasionally in their stools) to 
say, "the fever makes the worms come, and not the worms the fever." 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 265 

The employments of the Indians subject them to many acci- 
dents; hence we sometimes read of WOUNDS, FRACTURES, and 
LUXATIONS among them. 

Having thus pointed out the natural diseases of the Indians, 
and shewn what disorders are foreign to them, we may venture 
to conclude, that FEVERS, OLD AGE, CASUALTIES and WAR, are the 
only natural outlets of human life. War is nothing but a dis- 
temper; it is founded in the imperfection of political bodies, just 
as fevers are founded on the weakness of the animal body. 
Providence in these diseases seems to act like a mild legislature 
which mitigates the severity of death, by inflicting it in a man- 
ner the least painful upon the whole to the patient and the 
survivors. 

Let us now inquire into the REMEDIES of the Indians. These, 
like their diseases, are simple, and few in number. 

It will be difficult to find the exact order in which the 
Indian remedies were suggested by nature or discovered by art; 
nor will it be easy to arrange them in proper order. I shall how- 
ever attempt it, by reducing them to NATURAL and ARTIFICIAL. 

To the class of NATURAL REMEDIES belongs the Indian prac- 
tice of abstracting from their patients all kinds of stimulating 
aliment. The compliance of the Indians with the dictates of 
nature, in the early stage of a disorder, no doubt, prevents in 
many cases their being obliged to use any other remedy. They 
follow nature still closer, in allowing their patients to drink 
plentifully of cold water; this being the only liquor a patient 
calls for in the fever. 

Sweating is likewise a natural remedy. It was probably sug- 
gested by observing fevers to be terminated by it. I shall not 
inquire how far these sweats are essential to the crisis of a fever. 
The Indian mode of procuring this evacuation is as follows: the 
patient is confined in a close tent, or wigwam, over a hole in 
the earth, in which a red hot stone is placed; a quantity of water 
is thrown upon this stone, which instantly involves the patient 
in a cloud of vapour and sweat; in this situation he rushes out, 
and plunges himself into a river; from whence he retires to his 



266 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

bed. If the remedy has been used with success, he rises from his 
bed in four and twenty hours, perfectly recovered from his in- 
disposition. This remedy is used not only to cure fevers, but 
remove that uneasiness which arises from fatigue of body. 

A third natural remedy among the Indians, is PURGING. The 
fruits of the earth, the flesh of birds, and other animals feeding 
upon particular vegetables, and above all the spontaneous efforts 
of nature, early led the Indians to perceive the necessity and 
advantages of this evacuation. 

VOMITS constitute their fourth natural remedy. They were 
probably, like the former, suggested by nature, and accident. 
The ipecacuanha is one of the many roots they employ for this 
purpose. 

The ARTIFICIAL REMEDIES made use of by the Indians, are 
BLEEDING, CAUSTICS, and ASTRINGENT medicines. They confine 
bleeding entirely to the part affected. To know that opening a 
vein in the arm, or foot, would relieve a pain in the head or side, 
supposes some knowledge of the animal economy, and therefore 
marks an advanced period in the history of medicine. 

Sharp stones and thorns are the instruments they use to 
procure a discharge of blood. 

We have an account of the Indians using something like a 
POTENTIAL CAUSTIC, in obstinate pains. It consists of a piece of 
rotten wood called punk, which they place upon the part 
affected, and afterwards set it on fire; the fire gradually con- 
sumes the wood, and its ashes bum a hole in the flesh. 

The undue efforts of nature, in those fevers which are con- 
nected with a diarrhoea, or dysentery, together with those hem- 
orrhages to which their mode of life exposed them, necessarily 
led them to an early discovery of some ASTRINGENT VEGETABLES. 
I am uncertain whether the Indians rely upon astringent, or any 
other vegetables, for the cure of the intermitting fever. This 
disease among them probably requires no other remedies than 
the cold bath, or cold air. Its greater obstinacy, as well as fre- 
quency among ourselves, must be sought for in the greater 
feebleness of our constitutions; and in that change which our 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 267 

country has undergone, from meadows, mill-dams and the cut- 
ting down of woods; whereby morbid exhalations have been 
multiplied, and their passage rendered more free, through every 
part of country. 

This is a short account of the remedies of the Indians. If 
they are simple, they are, like their eloquence, full of strength; 
if they are few in number, they are accommodated, as their 
languages are to their ideas, to the whole of their diseases. 

We said, formerly, that the Indians were subject to ACCI- 
DENTS, such as wounds, fractures, and the like. In these cases, 
nature performs the office of a surgeon. We may judge of her 
qualifications for this office, by observing the marks of wounds 
and fractures, which are sometimes discovered on wild animals. 
But further, what is the practice of our modern surgeons in 
these cases? Is it not to lay aside plasters and ointments, and trust 
the whole to nature? Those ulcers which require the assistance 
of mercury, bark, and a particular regimen are unknown to the 
Indians. 

The HEMORRHAGES which sometimes follow their wounds, 
are restrained by plunging themselves into cold water, and 
thereby producing a constriction upon the bleeding vessels. 

Their practice of attempting to recover DROWNED PEOPLE, is 
irrational and unsuccessful. It consists in suspending the patient 
by the heels, in order that the water may flow from his mouth. 
This practice is founded on a belief that the patient dies from 
swallowing an excessive quantity of water. But modern observa- 
tion teaches us that drowned people die from another cause. 
This discovery has suggested a method of cure, directly opposite 
to that ip use among the Indians; and has shewn us that the 
practice of suspending by the heels is hurtful. 

I do not find that the Indians ever suffer in their limbs from 
the action of COLD upon them. Their moccasins, by allowing 
their feet to move freely, and thereby promoting the circulation 
of the blood, defend their lower extremities in the daytime, and 
their practice of sleeping with their feet near a fire, defends 
them from the morbid effects of cold at night. In those cases 



268 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

where the motion of their feet in their moccasins is not sufficient 
to keep them warm, they break the ice, and restore their warmth 
by exposing them for a short time to the stimulus of cold water.f 

We have heard much of their specific antidotes to the 
VENEREAL DISEASE. In the accounts of these antivenereal medi- 
cines, some abatement should be made for that love of the mar- 
vellous, and of novelty, which are apt to creep into the writings 
of travellers and physicians. How many medicines which were 
once thought infallible in this disorder, are now rejected from 
the materia medica! I have found upon enquiry that the Indians 
always assist their medicines in this disease, by a regimen which 
promotes perspiration. Should we allow that mercury acts as a 
specific in destroying this disorder, it does not follow that it is 
proof against the efficacy of medicines which act^more mechani- 
cally upon the body.* 

There cannot be a stronger mark of the imperfect state of 
knowledge in medicine among the Indians, than their method 
of treating the SMALLPOX. We are told that they plunge them- 
selves in cold water in the beginning of the disorder, and that 
it generally proves fatal to them. 

Travellers speak in high terms of the Indian ANTIDOTES to 
POISONS. We must remember, that many things have been 
thought poisonous, which later experience hath proved to possess 
no unwholesome quality. Moreover, the uncertainty and variety 
in the operation of poisons, renders it extremely difficult to fix 
the certainty of the antidotes to them. How many specifics have 
derived their credit for preventing the hydrophobia, from per- 

t It was remarked in Canada, in the winter of the year 1759, during 
the war before last, that none of those soldiers who wore moccasins were 
frost-bitten, while few of those escaped that were much exposed to the 
cold who wore shoes. 

* I cannot help suspecting the antivenereal qualities of the lobelia, 
ceanothus and ranunculus, spoken of by Mr Kalm, in the memoirs of the 
Swedish academy. Mr Hand informed me, that the Indians rely chiefly 
upon a plentiful use of the decoctions of the pine-trees, against the 
venereal disease. He added moreover, that he had often known this disease 
prove fatal to them. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 269 

sons being wounded by animals, who were not in a situation 
to produce that disorder! If we may judge of all the Indian 
antidotes to poisons, by those which have fallen into our hands, 
we have little reason to ascribe much to them in any cases what- 
ever. 

I have heard of their performing several remarkable cures 
upon STIFF JOINTS, by an infusion of certain herbs in water. The 
mixture of several herbs together in this infusion calls in question 
the specific efficacy of each of them. I cannot help attributing 
the whole success of this remedy to the great heat of the water 
in which the herbs were boiled, and to its being applied for a 
long time to the part affected. We find the same medicine to 
vary frequently in its success, according to its strength, or to 
the continuance of its application. De Haen attributes the good 
effects of electricity, entirely to its being used for several months. 

I have met with one case upon record of their aiding nature 
in PARTURITION. Captain Carver gives us an account of an Indian 
woman in a difficult labour, being suddenly delivered in conse- 
quence of a general convulsion induced upon her system, by 
stopping, for a short time, her mouth and nose, so as to obstruct 
her breathing. 

We are sometimes amused with accounts of Indian remedies 
for the DROPSY, EPILEPSY, COLIC, GRAVEL and GOUT. If, with all 
the advantages which modern physicians derive from their 
knowledge in ANATOMY, CHEMISTRY, BOTANY and PHILOSOPHY; 
if, with the benefit of discoveries communicated from abroad, 
as well as handed down from our ancestors, by more certain 
methods than tradition, we are still ignorant of certain remedies 
for these diseases; what can we expect from the Indians, who 
are not only deprived of these advantages, but want our chief 
motive, the sense of the pain and danger of those disorders to 
prompt them to seek for such remedies to relieve them? There 
cannot be a stronger proof of their ignorance of proper remedies 
for new or difficult diseases, than their having recourse to en- 
chantment. But to be more particular; I have taken pains to 
inquire into the success of some of these Indian specifics, and 



2 7 o SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

have never heard of one well attested case of their efficacy. I 
believe they derive all their credit from our being ignorant of 
their composition. The influence of secrecy is well known in 
establishing the credit of a medicine. The sal seignette was an 
infallible medicine for the intermitting fever, while the manu- 
factory of it was confined to an apothecary at Rochelle; but it 
lost its virtues as soon as it was found to be composed of the 
acid of tartar and the fossil alkali. Dr Ward's famous pill and 
drop ceased to do wonders in scrophulous cases as soon as he 
bequeathed to the world his receipts for making them. 

I foresee an objection to what has been said concerning the 
remedies of the Indians, drawn from that knowledge which ex- 
perience gives to a mind intent upon one subject. We have heard 
much of the perfection of their senses of seeing and hearing. 
An Indian, we are told, will discover not only a particular tribe 
of Indians by their footsteps, but the distance of time in which 
they were made. In those branches of knowledge which relate 
to hunting and war, the Indians have acquired a degree of per- 
fection that has not been equalled by civilized nations. But we 
must remember, that medicine among them does not enjoy the 
like advantages with the arts of war and hunting, of being the 
chief object of their attention. The physician and the warrior 
are united in one character; to render him as able in the former 
as he is in the latter profession, would require an entire abstrac- 
tion from every other employment, and a familiarity with ex- 
ternal objects, which are incompatible with the wandering life 
of savages. 

Thus we have finished our inquiry into the diseases and 
remedies of the Indians in North-America. We come now to 
inquire into the diseases and remedies of civilized nations. 

Nations differ in their degrees of civilization. We shall select 
one for the subject of our enquiries which is most familiar to 
us; I mean the British nation. Here we behold subordination 
and classes of mankind established by government, commerce, 
manufactures, and certain customs common to most of the civi- 
lized nations of Europe. We shall trace the origin of their dis- 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 271 

eases through their customs in the same manner as we did those 
of the Indians. 

I. It will be sufficient to name the degrees of heat, the im- 
proper aliment, the tight dresses, and the premature studies chil- 
dren are exposed to, in order to show the ample scope for dis- 
eases, which is added to the original defect of stamina they derive 
from their ancestors. 

II. Civilization rises in its demands upon the health of women. 
Their fashions; their dress and diet; their eager pursuits and 
ardent enjoyment of pleasure; their indolence and undue evacua- 
tions in pregnancy; their cordials, hot regimen and neglect or 
use of art, in child-birth, are all so many inlets to diseases. 

Humanity would fain be silent, while philosophy calls upon 
us to mention the effects of interested marriages, and of disap- 
pointments in love, increased by that concealment which the 
tyranny of custom has imposed upon the sex.* Each of these 
exaggerates the natural, and increases the number of artificial 
diseases among women. 

III. The diseases introduced by civilization extend them- 
selves through every class and profession among men. How fatal 
are the effects of idleness and intemperance among the rich, and 
of hard labor and penury among the poor! What pallid looks 
are contracted by the votaries of science from hanging over the 
"sickly taper!" Flow many diseases are entailed upon manufac- 
turers, by the materials in which they work, and the posture 
of their bodies! What monkish diseases do we observe from 
monkish continence and monkish vices! We pass over the in- 
crease of accidents from building, sailing, riding, and the like. 
War, as if too slow in destroying the human species, calls in a 

* "Married women are more healthy and long-lived than single 
women. The registers, examined by Mr Muret, confirm this observation; 
and show particularly, that of equal numbers of single and married 
women between fifteen and twenty-five years of age, more of the former 
died than of the latter, in the proportion of two to one: the consequence, 
therefore, of following nature must be favourable to health among the 
female sex." Supplement to Price's Observations on Reversionary Pay- 
ments, p. 357. 



272 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

train of diseases peculiar to civilized nations. What havock have 
the corruption and monopoly of provisions, a damp soil, and an 
unwholesome sky, made, in a few days, in an army! The achieve- 
ments of British valour at the Havannah, in the last war, were 
obtained at the expence of 9,000 men, 7,000 of whom perished 
with the West India fever.* Even our modern discoveries in 
geography, by extending the empire of commerce, have likewise 
extended the empire of diseases. What desolation have the East 
and West Indies made of British subjects! It has been found 
upon a nice calculation, that only ten of an hundred Europeans, 
live above seven years after they arrive in the island of Jamaica. 

IV. It would take up too much of our time to point out all 
the customs both physical and moral^ which influence diseases 
among both sexes. The former have engendered the seeds of 
diseases in the human body itself: hence the origin of catarrhs, 
jail and miliary fevers, with a long train of contagious disorders, 
which compose so great a part of our books of medicine. The 
latter likewise have a large share in producing diseases. I am not 
one of those modern philosophers, who derive the vices of 
mankind from the influence of civilization; but I am safe in 
asserting, that their number and malignity increase with the 
refinements of polished life. To prove this, we need only survey 
a scene too familiar to affect us: it is a bedlam; which injustice, 
inhumanity, avarice, pride, vanity, and ambition, have filled with 
inhabitants. 

Thus have we briefly pointed out the customs which influ- 
ence the diseases of civilized nations. It remains now that we 

* The modern writers upon the diseases of armies, wonder that the 
Greek and Roman physicians have left us nothing upon that subject. But 
may not most of the diseases of armies be produced by the different man- 
ner in which wars are carried on by the modern nations? The discoveries 
in geography, by extending the field of war, expose soldiers to many 
diseases from long voyages, and a sudden change of climate; which were 
unknown to the armies of former ages. Moreover, the form of the 
weapons, and the variety in the military exercises of the Grecian and 
Roman armies, gave a vigour to the constitution, which can never be 
acquired by the use of muskets and artillery. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 273 

take notice of their diseases. Without naming the many new 
fevers, fluxes, hemorrhages, swellings from water, wind, flesh, 
fat, pus and blood; foulnesses on the skin from cancers, leprosy, 
yawes, poxes, and itch; and lastly, the gout, the hysteria, and the 
hypocondriasis, in all their variety of known and unknown 
shapes; I shall sum up all that is necessary upon this subject, 
by adding, that the number of diseases which belong to civilized 
nations, according to Doctor Cullen's nosology, amounts to 
1387; the single class of nervous diseases form 6 1 2 of this number. 

Before we proceed to speak of the remedies of civilized 
nations, we shall examine into the abilities of NATURE in curing 
their diseases. We found her active and successful in curing the 
diseases of the Indians. Is her strength, wisdom, or benignity, 
equal to the increase of those dangers which threaten her disso- 
lution among civilized nations? In order to answer this question, 
it will be necessary to explain the meaning of the term nature. 

By nature, in the present case, I understand nothing but 
physical necessity. This at once excludes every thing like intelli- 
gence from her operations: these are all performed in obedience 
to the same laws which govern vegetation in plants and the 
intestine motions of fossils. They are as truly mechanical as the 
laws of gravitation, electricity or magnetism. A ship when laid 
on her broadside by a wave, or a sudden blast of wind, rises by 
the simple laws of her mechanism; but suppose this ship be 
attacked by fire, or a water-spou't, we are not to call in question 
the skill of the ship-builder, if she be consumed by the one, or 
sunk by the other. In like manner, the Author of nature hath 
furnished the body with powers to preserve itself from its 
natural enemies; but when it is attacked by those civil foes which 
are bred by the peculiar customs of civilization, it resembles a 
company of Indians, armed with bows and arrows, against the 
complicated and deadly machinery of fire-arms. To place this 
subject in a proper light, we shall deliver a history of the opera- 
tions of nature in a few of the diseases of civilized nations. 

I. There are cases in which nature is still successful in curing 
diseases. 



274 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

In fevers she still deprives us of our appetite for animal food, 
and imparts to us a desire for cool air and cold water. 

In hemorrhages she produces a faintness, which occasions a 
coagulum in the open vessels; so that the further passage of blood 
through them is obstructed. 

In wounds of the flesh and bones she discharges foreign 
matter by exciting an inflammation, and supplies the waste of 
both with new flesh and bone. 

II. There are cases where the efforts of nature are too feeble 
to do service, as in putrid and nervous fevers. 

III. There are cases where the efforts of nature are over 
proportioned to the strength of the disease, as in the cholera 
morbus and dysentery. 

IV. There are cases where nature is idle, a in the atonic 
stages of the gout, the cancer, the epilepsy, the mania, the 
venereal disease, the apoplexy, and the tetanus.* 

V. There are cases in which nature does mischief. She wastes 
herself with an unnecessary fever, in a dropsy and consumption. 
She throws a plethora upon the brain and lungs in the apoplexy 
and peripneumonia notha. She ends a pleurisy and peripneumony 
in a vomica, or empyema. She creates an unnatural appetite for 
food in the hypochondriac disorder. And lastly, she drives the 
melancholy patient to solitude, where, by brooding over the 
subject of his insanity, he increases his disease. 

We are accustomed to hear of the salutary kindness of nature 
in alarming us with pain, to prompt us to seek for a remedy. But, 

VI. There are cases in which she refuses to send this har- 
binger of the evils which threaten her, as in the aneurism, scirrhus, 
and stone in the bladder. 

VII. There are cases where the pain is not proportioned to 
the danger, as in the tetanus, consumption, and dropsy of the 
head. And, 

VIII. There are cases where the pain is over-proportioned 
to the danger, as in the paronychia and tooth-ache. 

* Hoffmann de hypothesium medicarum damno, sect. xv. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 275 

This is a short account of the operations of nature, in the 
diseases of civilized nations. A lunatic might as well plead against 
the sequestration of his estate, because he once enjoyed the full 
exercise of his reason, or because he still had lucid intervals, 
as nature be exempted from the charges we have brought against 
her. 

But this subject will receive strength from considering the 
REMEDIES of civilized nations. All the products of the vegetable, 
fossil, and animal kingdoms, tortured by heat and mixture into 
an almost infinite variety of forms; bleeding, cupping, artificial 
drains by setons, issues, and blisters; exercise, active and passive; 
voyages and journies; baths, warm and cold; waters saline, aerial 
and mineral; food by weight and measure; the royal touch; en- 
chantment; miracles; in a word, the combined discoveries of 
natural history and philosophy, united into a system of materia 
medica, all show, that although physicians are in speculation 
the servants, yet in practice they are the masters of nature. The 
whole of their remedies seem contrived on purpose to arouse, 
assist, restrain, and control her operations. 

There are some truths like certain liquors, which require 
strong heads to bear them. I feel myself protected from the 
prejudices of vulgar minds, when I reflect that I am delivering 
these sentiments in a society of philosophers. 

Let us now take a COMPARATIVE VIEW of the diseases and 
remedies of the Indians with those of civilized nations. We shall 
begin with their diseases. 

In our account of the diseases of the Indians we beheld death 
executing his commission, it is true; but then his dart was hid in 
a mantle, under which he concealed his shape. But among civi- 
lized nations we behold him multiplying his weapons in pro- 
portion to the number of organs and functions in the body; and 
pointing each of them in such a manner, as to render his messen- 
gers more terrible than himself. 

We said formerly that fevers constituted the chief diseases 
of the Indians. According to Doctor Sydenham's computation, 
above 66,000 out of 100,000 died of fevers in London about 



276 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

100 years ago; but fevers now constitute but a little more than 
one-tenth part of the diseases of that city. Out of 21,780 persons 
who died in London between December 1770 and December 
1771, only 2273 died of simple fevers. I have more than once 
heard Doctor Huck complain, that he could find no marks of 
epidemic fevers in London as described by Dr Sydenham. Lon- 
don has undergone a revolution in its manners and customs since 
Doctor Sydenham's time. New diseases, the offspring of luxury, 
have supplanted fevers; and the few that are left, are so com- 
plicated with other diseases that their connection can no longer 
be discovered with an epidemic constitution of the year. The 
pleurisy and peripneumony those inflammatory fevers of strong 
constitutions, are now lost in catarrhs, or colds; which instead 
of challenging the powers of nature or art to a fair combat, 
insensibly undermine the constitution, and bring on an incurable 
consumption. Out of 22,434 who died in London between 
December 1769, and the same month in 1770, 4594 perished 
with that British disorder. Our countryman, Doctor Maclurg, 
has ventured to foretel that the gout will be lost in a few years, 
in a train of hypocondriac, hysteric and bilious disorders. In like 
manner, may we not look for a season when fevers, the natural 
diseases of the human body, will be lost in an inundation of 
artificial diseases, brought ori by the modish practices of civi- 
lization? 

It may not be improper to compare the PROGNOSIS of the 
Indians, in diseases, with that of civilized nations, before we take 
a comparative view of their remedies. 

The Indians are said to be successful in predicting the events 
of diseases. While diseases are simple, the marks which distin- 
guish them, or characterize their several stages, are generally 
uniform and obvious to the most indifferent observer. These 
marks afford so much certainty, that the Indians sometimes kill 
their physicians for a false prognosis, charging the death of the 
patient to their carelessness, or ignorance. They estimate the 
danger of their patients by the degrees of appetite; while an 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 277 

Indian is able to eat, he is looked upon as free from danger. 
But when we consider the number and variety in the signs of 
diseases, among civilized nations, together with the shortness of 
life, the fallacy of memory, and the uncertainty of observation, 
where shall we find a physician willing to risk his reputation, 
much less his life, upon the prediction of the event of our acute 
diseases? We can derive no advantage from the simple sign, by 
which the Indians estimate the danger of their patients; for we 
daily see a want of appetite for food in diseases which are at- 
tended with no danger; and we sometimes observe an unusual 
degree of this appetite to precede the agonies of death. I honour 
the name of HIPPOCRATES: But forgive me ye votaries of anti- 
quity, if I attempt to pluck a few grey hairs from his venerable 
head. I was once an idolater at his altar, nor did I turn apostate 
from his worship, till I was taught, that not a tenth part of his 
prognostics corresponded with modern experience, or observa- 
tion. The pulse,* urine, and sweats, from which the principle 
signs of life and death have been taken, are so variable in most 
of the acute diseases of civilized nations, that the wisest physi- 
cians have in some measure excluded the prognosis from being 
a part of their profession. 

I am here insensibly led to make an apology for the instability 
of the theories and practice of physic. The theory of physic is 
founded upon the laws of the animal economy. These (unlike 
the laws of the mind, or the common laws of matter) do not 
appear at once, but are gradually brought to light by the phe- 
nomena of diseases. The success of nature in curing the simple 
diseases of Saxony, laid the foundation for the ANIMA MEDICA of 

* Doctor Cullen used to inform his pupils, that after forty years 
experience, he could find no relation between his own observations on 
the pulse, and those made by Doctor Solano. The climate and customs 
of the people in Spain being so different from the climate and customs 
of the present inhabitants of Britain, may account for the diversity of 
their observations. Doctor Heberden's remarks upon the pulse, in the 
second volume of the Medical Transactions, are calculated to show how 
little the issue of diseases can be learned from it. 



278 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

Doctor STAHL. The endemics of Holland * led Doctor BOER- 
HAAVE to seek for the causes of all diseases in the FLUIDS. And 
the universal prevalence of the disease of the NERVES, in Great- 
Britain led Doctor CULLEN to discover their peculiar laws, and 
to found a system upon them; a system, which will probably last 
till some new diseases are let loose upon the human species, 
which shall unfold other laws of the animal economy. 

It is in consequence of this fluctuation in the principles and 
practice of physic, being so necessarily connected with the 
changes in the customs of civilized nations, that old and young 
physicians so often disagree in their opinions and practices. And 
it is by attending to the constant changes in these customs of 
civilized nations, that those physicians have generally become 
the most eminent, who have soonest emancipated themselves 
from the tyranny of the schools of physic; ancl having occa- 
sionally accommodated their principles and practice to the 
changes in diseases. t This variety in diseases, which is produced 
by the changes in the customs of civilized nations, will enable 
us to account for many of the contradictions which are to be 
found in authors of equal candor and abilities, who have written 
upon the materia medica. 



* "The scurvy is very frequent in Holland; and draws its origin 
partly from their strong food, sea-fish, and smoked flesh, and partly from 
their dense and moist air, together with their bad water." Hoffman on 
Endemical Distempers. 

"We are now in North-Holland; and I have never seen, among so 
few people, so many infected with the leprosy as here. They say the 
reason is, because they eat so much fish." Howell's Familiar Letters. 

t We may learn from these observations, the great impropriety of 
those Egyptian laws which oblige physicians to adopt, in all cases, the 
prescriptions which had been collected, and approved of, by the physi- 
cians of former ages. Every change in the customs of civilized nations, 
produces a change in their diseases, which calls for a change in their 
remedies. What havoc would plentiful bleeding, purging, and small beer, 
formerly used with so much success by Dr Sydenham in the cure of 
fevers, now make upon the enfeebled citizens of London! The fevers of 
the same, and of more southern latitudes, still admit of such antiphlogistic 
remedies. In the room of these, bark, wine, and other cordial medicines, 
are prescribed in London in almost every kind of fever. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 279 

In forming a comparative view of the REMEDIES of the In- 
dians, with those of civilized nations, we shall remark, that the 
want of success in a medicine is occasioned by one of the fol- 
lowing causes. 

First, our ignorance of the disorder. Secondly, an ignorance 
of a suitable remedy. Thirdly, a want of efficacy in the remedy. 

Considering the violence of the diseases of the Indians, it is 
probable their want of success is always occasioned by a want 
of efficacy in their medicines. But the case is very different 
among the civilized nations. Dissections daily convince us of 
our ignorance of the seats of diseases, and cause us to blush at 
our prescriptions. What certain or equal remedies have we found 
for the gout, the epilepsy, apoplexy, palsy, dropsy of the brain, 
cancer and consumption? How often are we disappointed in our 
expectation from the most certain and powerful of our remedies, 
by the negligence or obstinacy of our patients! What mischief 
have we done under the belief of false facts (if I may be allowed 
the expression) and false theories! We have assisted in multiply- 
ing diseases. We have done more we have increased their 
mortality. 

I shall not pause to beg pardon of the faculty, for acknowl- 
edging in this public manner the weaknesses of our profession. 
I am pursuing truth, and while I can keep my eye fixed upon 
my guide, I am indifferent whither I am led, provided she is 
my leader. 

But further, the Indian submits to his disease, without one 
fearful emotion from his doubtfulness of its event; and at last 
meets his fate without an anxious wish for futurity; except it is 
of being admitted to an "equal sky," where 

"His faithful dog shall bear him company." 

But among civilized nations, the influence of a false religion in 
good, and of a true religion in bad men, has converted even the 
fear of death into a disease. It is this original distemper of the 
imagination which renders the plague most fatal, upon his first 
appearance in a country. 



280 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

Under all these disadvantages in the state of medicine, among 
civilized nations, do more in proportion die of the diseases pecul- 
iar to them, than of fevers, casualties and old age, among the 
Indians? If we take our account from the city of London, we 
shall find this to be the case. Near a twentieth part of its in- 
habitants perisli one year with another. Nor does the natural 
increase of inhabitants supply this yearly waste. If we judge 
from the bills of mortality, the city of London contains fewer 
inhabitants, by several thousands, than it did forty years ago. 
It appears from this fact, and many others of a like nature, which 
might be adduced, that although the difficulty of supporting 
children, together with some peculiar customs of the Indians, 
which we mentioned, limit their number, yet they multiply faster, 
and die in a smaller proportion than civilized nations, under 
the circumstances we have described. The Indians, we are told, 
were numerous in this country before the Europeans settled 
among them. Travellers agree likewise in describing numbers 
of both sexes who exhibited all the marks of extreme old age. 
It is remarkable that age seldom impairs the faculties of their 
minds. 

The mortality peculiar to those Indian tribes who have min- 
gled with the white people, must be ascribed to the extensive 
mischief of spirituous liquors. When these have not acted, they 
have suffered from having accommodated themselves too sud- 
denly to the European diet, dress, and manners. It does not be- 
come us to pry too much into futurity; but if we may judge from 
the fate of the original natives of Hispaniola, Jamaica, and the 
provinces on the continent, we may venture to 'foretell, that, 
in proportion as the white people multiply, the Indians will 
diminish; so that in a few centuries they will probably be entirely 
extirpated.* 

* Even the influence of CHRISTIAN principles has not been able to put 
a stop to the mortality introduced among the Indians, by their inter- 
course with the Europeans. Dr Cotton Mather, in a letter to Sir William 
Ashurst, printed, in Boston in the year 1705, says "That above five years 
before, there were about thirty Indian congregations in the southern 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 281 

It may be said, that health among the Indians, like insensi- 
bility to cold and hunger, is proportioned to their need of it; 
and that the less degrees, or entire want of health, are no inter- 
ruption to the ordinary business of civilized life. 

To obviate this supposition, we shall first attend to the effects 
of a single distemper in those people who are the principle wheels 
in the machine of civil society. Justice has stopt its current, vic- 
tories, have been lost, wars have been prolonged, and embassies 
delayed, by the principle actors in these departments of govern- 
ment being suddenly laid up by a fit of the gout. How many 
offences are daily committed against the rules of good breeding, 
by the tedious histories of our disorders, which compose so great 
a part of modem conversation! What sums of money have been 
lavished in foreign countries in pursuit of health! * Families have 
been ruined by the unavoidable expenses of medicines and water- 
ing-places. In a word, the swarms of beggars which infest so 
many of the European countries, urge their petitions for charity 
chiefly by arguments derived from real or counterfeit diseases, 
which render them incapable of supporting themselves.f 

But may not civilization, while it abates the violence of natu- 
ral diseases, increase the lenity of those that are artificial, in the 
same manner that it lessens the strength of natural vices by 
multiplying them? To answer this question, it will only be neccs- 



parts of the province of Massachusetts-Bay." The same author, in his 
history of New-England, says, "That in the islands of Nantucket and 
Martha's Vineyard, there were 3000 adult Indians, 1600 of whom pro- 
fessed the Christian religion." At present there is but one Indian con- 
gregation in the whole Massachusetts province. 

It may serve to extend our knowledge of diseases, to remark, that 
epidemics were often observed to prevail among the Indians in Nan- 
tucket, without affecting the white people. 

* It is said, there are seldom less than 20,000 British subjects in 
France and Italy; one half of whom reside or travel in those countries 
upon the account of their health. 

t Templeman computes, that Scotland contains 1,500,000 inhabitants; 
100,000 of whom, according to Mr Fletcher, are supported at the public 
expence. The proportion of poor people is much greater in England, 
Ireland, France, and Italy. 



282 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

sary to ask another: Who should exchange the heat, thirst and 
uneasiness of a fever, for one fit of the cholic or stone? 

The history of the number, combination and fashions of the 
remedies we have given, may serve to humble the pride of phi- 
losophy; and to convince us that with all the advantages of the 
whole circle of sciences, we are still ignorant of antidotes to 
many of the diseases of civilized nations. We sometimes soothe 
our ignorance by reproaching our idleness in not investigating 
the remedies peculiar to this country. We are taught to believe 
that every herb that grows in our woods is possessed of some 
medicinal virtue, and that heaven would be wanting in benignity 
if our country did not produce remedies for all the different 
diseases of its inhabitants. It would be arrogating too much to 
suppose that man was the only creature in our world for whom 
vegetables grow. The beasts, birds and insects, derive their 
sustenance either directly or indirectly from them; while many 
of them were probably intended from their variety in figure, 
foliage and colour, only to serve as ornaments for our globe. 
It would seem strange that the Author of nature should furnish 
every spot of ground with medicines adapted to the diseases of 
its inhabitants, and at the same rime deny it the more necessary 
articles of food and cloathing. I know not whether heaven has 
provided every country with antidotes even to the natural dis- 
eases of its inhabitants. The intermitting fever is common in 
almost every corner of the globe; but a sovereign remedy for 
it has been discovered only in South-America. The combination 
of bitter and astringent substances, which serve as a succeda- 
neum to the Peruvian bark, is as much a preparation of art, as 
calomel or tartar emetic. Societies stand in need of each other 
as much as individuals: and the goodness of the Deity remains 
unimpeached when we suppose, that he intended medicines to 
serve (with other articles) to promote that knowledge, humanity, 
and politeness among the inhabitants of the earth, which have 
been so justly attributed to commerce. 

We have no discoveries in the materia medica to hope for 
from the Indians in North-America. It would be a reproach to 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 283 

our schools of physic, if modern physicians were not more suc- 
cessful than the Indians, even in the treatment of their own 
diseases. 

Do the blessings of civilization compensate for the sacrifice 
we make of natural health, as well as of natural liberty? This 
question must be answered under some limitations. When natural 
liberty is given up for laws which enslave instead of protecting 
us, we are immense losers by the exchange. Thus, if we arm the 
whole elements against our health, and render every pore in the 
body an avenue for a disease, we pay too high a price for the 
blessings of civilization. 

In governments which have departed entirely from their sim- 
plicity, partial evils are to be cured by nothing but an entire 
renovation of their constitution. Let the world bear with the 
professions of law, physic, and divinity; and let the lawyer, 
physician and divine yet learn to bear with each other. They 
are all necessary, in the present state of society. In like manner, 
let the women of fashion forget the delicacy of her sex, and 
submit to be delivered by, a man-midwife.* Let her snatch her 
offspring from her breast, and send it to repair the weakness of 
its stamina, with the milk of a ruddy cottager. f Let art supply 

* In the enervated age of Athens, a law was passed which confined 
the practice of midwifery only to the men. It was, however, repealed, 
upon a woman's dying in childbirth, rather than be delivered by a man- 
midwife. It appears from the bills of mortality in London and Dublin, 
that about one in seventy of those women die in childbirth who are in the 
hands of midwives; but from the accounts of the lying-in hospitals in 
those cities which are under the care of man-midwives, only one in an 
hundred and forty perishes in childbirth. 

t There has been much common-place declamation against the cus- 
tom among the great, of not suckling their children. Nurses were common 
in Rome, in the declension of the empire: hence we find Cornelia com- 
mended as a rare example of maternal virtue, as much for suckling her 
sons, as for teaching them eloquence. That nurses were common in Egypt, 
is probable from the contract which Pharaoh's daughter made with the 
unknown mother of Moses, to allow her wages for suckling her own 
child. The same degrees of civilization require the same customs. A 
woman whose times for eating, sleeping &c. are constantly interrupted 
by the calls of enervating pleasures, must always afford milk of an un- 



284 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

the place of nature in the preparation and digestion of all our 
aliment. Let our fine ladies keep up their colour with carmine, 
and their spirits with ratifia; and let our fine gentlemen defend 
themselves from the excesses of heat and cold, with lavender and 
hartshorn. These customs have become necessary in the corrupt 
stages of society. We must imitate, in these cases, the practice 
of those physicians who consult the appetite only, in diseases 
which do not admit of a remedy. 

The state of a country in point of population, temperance, 
and industry, is so connected with its diseases, that a tolerable 
idea may be formed of it, by looking over its bills of mortality. 
HOSPITALS, with all their boasted advantages, exhibit at the same 
time monuments of the charity and depravity of a people.* The 
opulence of physicians, and the divisions of their offices, into 
those of surgery, pharmacy and midwifery, are likewise proofs 
of the declining state of a country. In the infancy of the Roman 
empire, the priest performed the office of a physician; so simple 

wholesome nature. It may truly be said of a child doomed to live on this 
aliment, that as soon as it receives 

"breath, 

It sucks in "the lurking principles of death." 

* "Aurengezebe, emperor of Persia, being asked Why he did not 
build hospitals? said, / will make my empire so rich, that there shall be 
no need of hospitals. He ought to have said, I will begin by rendering 
my subjects rich, and then I will build hospitals. 

u At Rome, the hospitals place every one at his ease, except those 
who labor, those who are industrious, those who have lands, and those 
who are engaged in trade. 

"I have observed, that wealthy nations have need of hospitals, because 
fortune subjects them to a thousand accidents; but it is plain, that transient 
assistances are better than perpetual foundations. The evil is momentary; 
it is necessary, therefore, that the succor should be of the same nature, 
and that it be applied to particular accidents." Spirit of laws, b. xkiii 
ch. 29. 

It was reserved for the present generation to substitute in the room 
of public hospitals private DISPENSARIES for the relief of the sick. Philoso- 
phy and Christianity alike concur in deriving praise and benefit from 
these excellent institutions. They exhibit something like an application of 
the mechanical powers to the purposes of benevolence; for in what other 
charitable institutions do we perceive so great a quantity of distress re- 
lieved by so small an expence? 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 285 

were the principles and practice of physic. It was only in the 
declension of the empire that physicians vied with the emperors 
of Rome in magnificence and splendor.* 

I am sorry to add in this place, that the number of patients 
in the HOSPITAL, and incurables in the ALMSHOUSR of this city, 
show that we are treading in the enervated steps of our fellow 
subjects in Britain. Our bills of mortality likewise show the 
encroachments of British diseases upon us. The NERVOUS FEVER 
has become so familiar to us, that we look upon it as a natural 
disease. Dr Sydenham, so faithful in his history of fevers, takes 
no notice of it. Dr Cadwallader informed me, that it made its 
first appearance in this city about five and twenty years ago. It 
will be impossible to name the CONSUMPTION without recalling 
to our minds the memory of some friend or relation, who has 
perished within these few years by that disorder. Its rapid prog- 
ress among us has been unjustly attributed to the growing re- 
semblance of our climate to that of Great-Britain. The HYSTERIC 
and HYPOCHONDRIAC DISORDERS, once peculiar to the chambers 
of the great, are now to be found in our kitchens and work- 
shops. All these diseases have been produced by our having de- 
serted the simple diet, and manners, of our ancestors. 

The blessings of literature, commerce, and religion were not 
originally purchased at the expense of health. The complete 

* The first regular practitioners of physic in Rome, were women and 
slaves. The profession was confined to them above six hundred years. 
The Romans during this period lived chiefly upon vegetables, particularly 
upon PULSE; and hence they were called, by their neighbours PULTIFAGI. 
They were likewise early inured to the healthy employments of war and 
husbandry. Their diseases, of course, were too few and simple to render 
the cure of them an object of a liberal profession. When their diseases 
became more numerous and complicated, their investigation and cure 
required the aids of philosophy. The profession from this time became 
liberal; and maintained a rank with the other professions which are 
founded upon the imperfection and depravity of human institutions. 
Physicians are as necessary in the advanced stages of society as surgeons, 
although their office is less ancient and certain. There are many artificial 
diseases, in which they give certain relief; and even where their art fails, 
their prescriptions are still necessary, in order to smooth the avenues of 
death. 



286 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

enjoyment of health is as compatible with civilization, as the 
enjoyment of civil liberty. We read of countries, rich in every 
thing that can form national happiness and national grandeur, 
the diseases of which are nearly as few and simple as those of 
the Indians. We hear of no diseases among the Jews, while they 
were under their democratical form of government, except such 
as were inflicted by a supernatural power.* We should be 
tempted to doubt the accounts given of the populousness of that 
people, did we not see the practice of their simple customs pro- 
ducing nearly the same populousness in Egypt, Rome, and other 
countries of antiquity. The Empire of China, it is said contains 
more inhabitants than the whole of Europe. The political insti- 
tutions of that country have exempted its inhabitants from a 
large share of the diseases of other civilized nation^. The inhabi- 
tants of Switzerland, Denmark, Norway f and Sweden, enjoy 
the chief advantages of civilization without having surrendered 



* The principal employments of the Jews, like those of the Romans 
in their simple ages, consisted in war and husbandry. Their diet was plain, 
consisting chiefly of vegetables. Their only remedies were plasters and 
ointments; which were calculated for those diseases which are produced 
by accidents. In proportion as they receded from their simple customs, 
we find artificial diseases prevail among them. The leprosy made its 
appearance in their journey through the wilderness. King Asa's pains in 
his feet, were probably brought on by a fit of the gout. Saul and Nebuch- 
adnezzar were afflicted with a melancholy. In the time of our Saviour, 
we find an account of all those diseases in Judea, which mark the de- 
clension of a people; such as, the palsy, epilepsy, mania, blindness, hemor- 
rhagia uterina, &c. It is unnecessary to suppose, that they were let loose 
at this juncture, on purpose to give our Saviour an opportunity of making 
them the chief subject of his miracles. They had been produced from 
natural causes, by the gradual depravity of their manners. It is remark- 
able, that our Saviour chose those artificial diseases for the subject of his 
miracles, in preference to natural diseases. The efforts of nature, and the 
operation of medicines, are too slow and uncertain in these cases to 
detract in the least from the validity of the miracle. He cured Peter's 
mother-in-law, it is true, of a fever; but to shew that the cure was miracu- 
lous, the sacred historian adds, (contrary to what is common after a 
fever) "that she arose immediately and ministered unto them." 

t In the city of Bergen, which consists of 30,000 inhabitants, there is 
but one physician; who is supported at the expence of the public. Pon- 
toppidan's Nat. Hist, of Norway. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 287 

for them the blessings of natural health. But it is unnecessary to 
appeal to ancient or remote nations to prove, that health is not 
incompatible with civilization. The inhabitants of many parts 
of New England, particularly the province of Connecticut, are 
strangers to artificial diseases. Some of you may remember the 
time, and our fathers have told those of us who do not, when 
the diseases of PENNSYLVANIA were as few and as simple as those 
of the Indians. The food of the inhabitants was then simple; 
their only drink was water; their appetites were restrained by 
labour; religion excluded the influence of sickning passions; 
private hospitality supplied the want of a public hospital; nature 
was their only nurse, temperance their principal physician. But 
I must not dwell upon this retrospect of primaeval manners; and 
I am too strongly impressed with a hope of a revival of such 
happy days, to pronounce them the golden age of our province. 
Our esteem for the customs of our savage neighbours will be 
lessened, when we add, that civilization does not preclude the 
honours of old age. The proportion of old people is much 
greater among civilized, than among savage nations. It would be 
easy to decide this assertion in our favour, by appealing to facts 
in the natural histories of Britain, Norway, Sweden, North- 
America,* and several of the West-India Islands. 

* It has been urged against the state of longevity in America, that the 
Europeans, who settle among us, generally arrive to a greater age than 
the Americans. This is not occasioned so much by a peculiar firmness in 
their stamina, as by an increase of vigour, which the constitution acquires 
by a change of climate. A Frenchman (caeteris paribus) outlives an Eng- 
lishman in England. An Hollander prolongs his life by removing to the 
Cape of Good Hope. A Portuguese gains fifteen or twenty years by 
removing to Brazil. And there are good reasons to believe, that a North- 
American would derive the same advantages, in point of health and 
longevity, by removing to Europe, which an European derives from 
coming to this country. 

From a calculation made by an ingenious foreigner, it appears, that 
a greater proportion of old-people are to be found in Connecticut, than 
in any colony in North- America. This colony contains 180,000 inhab- 
itants. They have no public hospitals or poor-houses; nor is a beggar to 
be seen among them. There cannot be more striking proofs than these, 
facts of the simplicity of their manners. 



288 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

The laws of decency and nature, are not necessarily abol- 
ished by the customs of civilized nations. In many of these, we 
read of women among whom nature alone still performs the 
office of a midwife,f and who feel the obligations of suckling 
their children, to be equally binding with the common obliga- 
tions of morality. 

Civilization does not render us less fit for the necessary hard- 
ships of war. We read of armies of civilized nations, who have 
endured degrees of cold, hunger and fatigue, which have not 
been exceeded by the savages of any country.* 

Civilization does not always multiply the avenues of death. 
It appears from the bills of mortality, of many countries, that 
fewer in^ proportion die among civilized, than among savage 
nations. Even the charms of beauty are heightened by civiliza- 
tion. We read of stateliness, proportion, and fine teeth ** and 

t Parturition, in the simple ages of all countries, is performed by 
nature. The Israelitish women were delivered even without the help of 
the Egyptian midwives. We read of but two women who died in child- 
birth in the whole history of the Jews. Dr Bancroft says, that child- 
bearing is attended with so little pain in Guiana, that the women seem 
to be exempted from the curse inflicted upon Eve. These easy births 
are not confined to warm climates. They are equally safe and easy in 
Norway and Iceland, according to Pontoppidan and Anderson's histories 
of those countries. 

* Civilized nations have, in the end, always conquered savages as 
much by their ability to bear hardships, as by their superior military skill. 
Soldiers are not to be chosen indiscriminately. The greatest generals have 
looked upon sound constitutions to be as essential to soldiers, as bravery 
or military discipline. Count Saxe refused soldiers born and bred in large 
cities; and sought for such only as were bred in mountainous countries. 
The King of Prussia calls young soldiers only to the dangers and honors 
of the field in his elegant poem, Sur 1'Art de la Guerre, chant, i. Old 
soldiers generally lose the advantages of their veteranism, by their habits 
of idleness and debauchery. An able general, and experienced officers, 
will always supply the defects of age in young soldiers. 

** Bad teeth are observed chiefly in middle latitudes, which are sub- 
ject to alternate heats and colds. The inhabitants of Norway and Russia 
are as remarkable for their fine teeth as the inhabitants of Africa. We 
observe fine teeth to be universal likewise among the inhabitants of 
France, who live in a variable climate. These have been ascribed to their 
protecting their heads from the action of the night air by means of 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 289 

complexions in both sexes, forming the principal outlines of 
national characters. 

The danger -of many diseases, is not proportioned to their 
violence, but to their duration. America has advanced but a few 
paces in luxury and effeminacy. There is yet strength enough 
in her vitals to give life to those parts which are decayed. She 
may recall her steps. For this purpose, 

I. Let our children be educated in a manner more agreeable 
to nature. 

II. Let the common people (who constitute the wealth and 
strength of our country) be preserved from the effects of spiritu- 
ous liquors. Had I a double portion of all that eloquence which 
has been employed in describing the political evils that lately 
threatened our country, it would be too little to set forth the 
numerous and complicated physical and moral evils which these 
liquors have introduced among us. To encounter this hydra 
requires an arm accustomed like that of Hercules to vanquish 
monsters. Sir William Temple tells us, that in Spain no man 
can be admitted as an evidence in a court, who has once been 
convicted of drunkenness. I do not call for so severe a law in 
this country. Let us first try the force of severe manners. Lycur- 
gus governed more by these, than by his laws. "Boni mores non 
bonae leges," according to Tacitus, were the bulwarks of virtue 
among the ancient Germans. 

III. I despair of being able to call the votaries of Bacchus 
from their bottle, and shall therefore leave them to be roused 
by the more eloquent twinges of the gout. 

IV. Let us be cautious what kind of manufactures we admit 
among us. The rickets made their first appearance in the manu- 
facturing towns in England. Dr Fothergill informed me, that he 
had often observed, when a pupil, that the greatest part of the 
chronic patients in the London Hospital were Spittal-field 

woollen night-caps, and to the extraordinary attention to the teeth of 
their children. These precautions secure good teeth; and are absolutely 
necessary in all variable climates where people do not adopt all the cus- 
toms of the savage life. 



290 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

weavers. I would not be understood, from these facts, to dis- 
courage those manufacturers which give employment to women: 
these suffer few inconveniences from a sedentary life: nor 
do I mean to offer the least restraint to those manufactories 
among men, which admit of free air, and the exercise of all their 
limbs. Perhaps a pure air and the abstraction of spirituous 
liquors might render sedentary employments less unhealthy in 
America, even among men, than in the populous towns of 
Great-Britain. 

The population of a country is not to be accomplished by 
rewards and punishments. And it is happy for America, that the 
universal prevalence of the Protestant religion, the checks lately 
given to Negro slavery, the general unwillingness among us to 
acknowledge the usurpations of primogeniture, ^ the universal 
practice of inoculation for the small-pox, and the absence of the 
plague, render the interposition of government for that purpose 
unnecessary. 

These advantages can only be secured to our country by 
AGRICULTURE. This is the true basis of national health, riches 
and populousness. Nations, like individuals, never rise higher 
than when they are ignorant whither they are tending. It is 
impossible to tell from history, what will be the effects of agri- 
culture, industry, temperance, and commerce, urged on by the 
competition of colonies, united in the same general pursuits, in 
a country, which for extent, variety of soil, climate, and num- 
ber of navigable rivers, has never been equalled in any quarter 
of the globe. America is the theatre where human nature will 
probably receive her last and principal literary, moral and politi- 
cal honors. 

But I recall myself from the ages of futurity. The province 
of Pennsylvania has already shewn to her sister colonies, the 
influence of agriculture and commerce upon the number and 
happiness of a people. It is scarcely an hundred years since our 
illustrious legislator, with an handful of men, landed upon these 
shores. Although the perfection of our government, the healthi- 
ness of our climate, and the fertility of our soil, seemed to insure 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 291 

a rapid settlement of the province; yet it would have required 
a prescience bordering upon divine, to have foretold, that in 
such a short space of time, the province would contain above 
300,000 inhabitants; and that near 30,000 of this number should 
compose a city, which should be the third, if not the second in 
commerce in the British empire. The pursuits of literature re- 
quire leisure and a total recess from clearing forests, planting, 
building, and all the common toils of settling a new country: 
but before these arduous works were accomplished, the SCIENCES, 
ever fond of the company of liberty and industry, chose this 
spot for the seat of their empire in this new world. Our COLLEGE, 
so catholic in its foundation, and extensive in its objects, already 
sees her sons executing offices in the highest departments of 
society. I have now the honour of speaking in the presence of a 
most respectable number of philosophers, physicians, astrono- 
mers, botanists, patriots, and legislators; many of whom have 
already seized the prizes of honour, which their ancestors had 
allotted to a much later posterity. Our first offering had scarcely 
found its way into the temple of fame, when the oldest societies 
in Europe turned their eyes upon us, expecting with impatience 
to see the mighty fabric of science, which like a well built arch, 
can only rest upon the whole of its materials, completely finished 
from the treasures of this unexplored quarter of the globe. 

It reflects equal honour upon our society and the honourable 
assembly of our province, to acknowledge, that we have always 
found the latter willing to encourage by their patronage, and 
reward by their liberality, all our schemes for promoting useful 
knowledge. What may we not expect from this harmony be- 
tween the sciences and government! Methinks I see canals cut, 
rivers once impassible rendered navigable, bridges erected, and 
roads improved, to facilitate the exportation of grain. I see the 
banks of our rivers vying in fruitfulness with the banks of the 
river of Egypt. I behold our farmers, nobles; our merchants 
princes. But I forbear Imagination cannot swell with the sub- 
ject. 

I beg leave to conclude, by deriving an argument from our 



292 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

connection with the legislature, to remind my auditors of the 
duty they owe to the society. Patriotism and literature are here 
connected together; and a man cannot neglect the one without 
being destitute of the other. Nature and our ancestors have 
completed their works among us; and have left us nothing to do, 
but to enlarge and perpetuate our own happiness. 



THE VICES AND VIRTUES 
OF PHYSICIANS 

A Lecture 



MAN is A compound of good and evil. These dispositions appear 
in different proportions, according to the circumstances in which 
he is placed. They are much influenced by different states of 
society, and by different pursuits and occupations in life. Every 
profession has its peculiar vices and virtues. The business of our 
present lecture shall be to point out such of them as are attached 
to the profession of medicine. This investigation I hope will be 
useful, by teaching you in your outset in life, to avoid the former, 
and to cherish the latter. By these means, you will at once render 
the practice of physic, and your own characters, more respectable. 
You will likewise be enabled thereby, to bear With more com- 
posure and fortitude, the vexations and distresses which are con- 
nected with a medical life. 

The vices of physicians may be divided into three heads. 
I. As they relate to the Supreme Being. 

II. To their patients, and 

III. To their professional brethren. 

i st. Under the first head I shall begin by lamenting, that men 
whose educations necessarily open to them the wisdom and 
goodness of the Creator, and whose duties lead them constantly 
to behold his power over human life, and all its comforts, should 
be so very prone to forget him. This they evidence by their 
neglect of that worship, which is paid to him in different forms, 
under true, or false names, in every country. If it be a fact, that 

203 



294 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

physicians are more inclined to infidelity, than any other body 
of men, it must be ascribed chiefly to this cause. To correct this 
disposition, it is necessary we should be frequently reminded of 
the arguments on which Christianity is founded, and of the 
numerous and powerful motives which enforce a belief of it. 
It is in places of public worship that these arguments and mo- 
tives are delivered to the most advantage, and it is by neglecting 
to hear them, that the natural propensity of the human, heart 
to infidelity, is cherished and promoted. This vice of the under- 
standing has no natural alliance with the practice of physic, for 
to no secular profession does the Christian religion afford more 
aid, than to medicine. Our business leads us daily into the abodes 
of pain and misery. It obliges us likewise, frequently to witness 
the fears with which our friends leave the world, and the anguish 
which follows, in their surviving relatives. Here the common 
resources of our art fail us, but the comfortable views of the 
divine government, and of a future state, which are laid open 
by Christianity, more than supply their place. A pious word, 
dropped from the lips of a physician in such circumstances of 
his patients, often does more good than a long, and perhaps 
an ingenious discourse from another person, inasmuch as it falls 
upon the heart, in the moment of its deepest depression from 
grief. There is no substitute for this cordial in the materia 
medica. 

id. An undue confidence in medicine, to the exclusion of a 
Divine and Superintending Power over the health and lives of 

men, is another vice among physicians. A Dr. , in New 

York prescribed on an evening, for a sick man. The next day 
he called and asked him how he was, "Much better (said he) 
thank God." "Thank God! (said the doctor) thank me, it was 
I who cured you." 

3d. Drunkenness is a medical vice, which offends not only 
God, but man. It is generally induced by fatigue, and exposure 
to great heat and cold. But a habit of drinking intemperately is 
often incurred by a social spirit, leading physicians to accept of 
offers of wine, or spirits and water, in every house they enter, 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 295 

in the former part of the day. Good men have often been 
seduced and ruined by this complaisant practice. I shall here- 
after mention to you the safety, and advantages of eating a little 
fruit, or portable aliment, in preference to drinks of any kind 
before dinner, or when the body is in a languid state from fatigue. 
Drunkenness is a hideous vice in any person, but peculiarly so 
in a physician. If it rendered him offensive to his patients only 
by the smell it imparted to his breath, it should be a sufficient 
motive to deter him from it, but its evils are much more serious 
and extensive. It corrupts his manners, impairs his judgment, 
and renders him unfit to prescribe for the sick. Two instances of 
death have occurred, within my knowledge, from patients tak- 
ing excessive doses of liquid laudanum, from the hands of a 
drunken physician. 

4th. The members of our profession have sometimes been 
charged with an irreverent, and profane use of the name of the 
Supreme Being, but from the general disrepute in which that 
vice is now held in genteel life, I am happy in adding that it is 
less common among physicians, than it was forty years ago. 

II. In speaking of the vices of physicians as far as they relate 
to their patients, I pass over numerous acts of imposture. They 
are all more or less contrary to good morals. I shall at present 
only mention the more obvious and positive vices which belong 
to this head. They are 

i st. Falsehood. This vice discovers itself chiefly in the de- 
ceptions which are practised by physicians with respect to the 
cause, nature, and probable issue of diseases. What oceans of 
falsehoods have issued from the members of our profession, 
upon the cause of pestilential epidemics, in all ages and coun- 
tries! How many false names have been given to them to conceal 
their existence! In England the plague of 1664, was called, for 
several months, by the less alarming name of a spotted fever. 
In the United States of America, the yellow fever, is deprived 
for a while of the terror it ought to produce in order to its 
being avoided, or cured, by receiving the name of a common 
remittent, or by being ascribed to intemperance, or to some 



296 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

cause which only excited it into action. Equally criminal is the 
practice among some physicians of encouraging patients to ex- 
pect a recovery, in diseases which have arrived at their incurable 
stage. The mischief done by falsehood in this case, is the more 
to be deplored, as it often prevents the dying from settling their 
worldly affairs, and employing their last hours in preparing for 
their future state. 

This vice in physicians sometimes appears in histories, of cases 
that never existed, and of cures that were never performed. 
When it assumes this hateful form, its evil consequences become 
extensive and durable, from the difficulty with which it is detected 
and exposed. 

id. Inhumanity is a vice which sometimes appears in the 
conduct of physicians to their patients. It discovers itself in the 
want of prompt 'and punctual attendance upon the sick, and in 
a careless or unfeeling manner in sick rooms. This insensibility 
to human suffering is very happily exposed in the New Bath 
Guide; I should have supposed it too highly coloured, had I not 
heard of similar instances of inhumanity in several members of 
our profession. A lord of session, once fell from his seat in the 
court of Edinburgh in an apoplexy. A physician was called in 
haste to see him. He applied his fingers to his pulse. His brother 
judges, and a croud of spectators waited with solicitude to know 
whether he still retained any sign of life. "He is dead," said the 
physician, and in the same breath, said to a person who stood 
next to him, "Pray sir, shall we have a Spanish war." It is some 
consolation to the lovers of the healing art to recollect, that such 
instances of a want of sympathy and decency in physicians are 
very rare, and that examples of a contrary disposition, as I hope 
to prove hereafter, are more common amongst them. 

3d. Avarice, in all its forms of meanness, oppression, and 
cruelty, is a frequent vice among physicians. It discovers 
itself, 

i st. In a denial of services to the poor. I once heard a physi- 
cian's eminence estimated by the fewness of his bad debts, and 
by his doing no business, for which he was not paid. We had 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 297 

a trader in medicine of this kind in Philadelphia, many years ago, 
who constantly refused to attend poor people, and when called 
upon to visit them, drove them from his door by a name so 
impious, that I shall not mention it. This sordid conduct is some- 
times aggravated by being exercised towards old patients, who 
have been unfortunate in business, in the evening of their lives. 
We owe much to the families, who employ us in the infancy of 
our knowledge and experience. It is an act, therefore, of in- 
gratitude, as well as avarice, to neglect them under the pressure 
of age and poverty, as well as sickness, or to consign them over 
to young physicians or quacks, who are ignorant of their con- 
stitutions and habits, and strangers to the respect they com- 
manded in their better days. 

zcl. Avarice, in physicians, discovers itself in their extrava- 
gant charges, and in the means which arc sometimes employed 
to obtain payment for such debts as are just. I have heard of a 
surgeon in the British army, who made it a practice to take the 
swords of the officers, as a security for the future payment of 
his bills. A physician, in this country, once took, by legal force, 
a solitary cow from a poor woman, on which she chiefly relied 
for the subsistence of her family. But it is after the death of the 
master of a family, that the avarice of physicians appears in its 
most distressing and cruel forms. Behold one of these harpies 
enter into the house of a widow, who has just been bereaved 
of her husband, on whose daily labour she depended for her 
daily support. Unmoved by her tears, and by the sight of a 
group of helpless children, calling upon her, perhaps in vain, 
for their customary articles of food, sternly he demands an 
immediate settlement of his account. Gracious Father of the 
human race! touch the heart of this wretch with a sudden sense 
of thy justice, and cause him to feel the enormity of his crime! 
But if, by persevering in habits of extortion, he has forfeited 
thy reclaiming mercy, extend thy pity to the family which thou 
hast sorely afflicted, and discover to them, by some unexpected 
act of thy bounty, that thou art indeed a friend to the fatherless, 
and the widow's God! 



298 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

3d. To undertake the charge of sick people, and to neglect 
them afterwards, is a vice of a malignant dye in a physician. 
Many lives have been lost, by the want of punctual and regular 
attention to the varying symptoms of diseases; but still more 
have been sacrificed by the criminal preference, which has been 
given by physicians to ease, convivial company, or public amuse- 
ments and pursuits, to the care of their patients. The most im- 
portant contract that can be made, is that which takes place 
between a sick man and his doctor. The subject of it is human 
life. The breach of this contract, by wilful negligence, when 
followed by death, is murder; and it is because our penal laws 
are imperfect, that the punishment of that crime is not inflicted 
upon physicians who are guilty of it. 

4th. It is a vice in a physician to study, more^to please, than 
to cure his patients. Dr. Young calls such preachers, as prefer 
pleasing their hearers, to instructing and reforming them, 
"downy doctors." The same epithet may be applied to physi- 
cians, who prescribe for the whims of their patients, instead 
of their diseases. The life of a sick man should be the first object 
of a physician's solicitude, and he is not prepared to do his 
duty, until he can sacrifice his interest and reputation to pre- 
serve it. 

5th. The last vice I shall mention under this head, is, ob- 
stinacy in adhering to old and unsuccessful modes of practice, 
in diseases which have yielded to new remedies. Dr. Chisholm 
relates several flagrant instances of this vice, in the treatment 
of the yellow fever, in his late essay upon that pestilential dis- 
ease in the West Indies. This obstinacy was the more criminal 
in the physicians alluded to, as they had constantly before their 
eyes, numerous and irrefragable evidences of the success of 
a different mode of practice, which the Doctor had in- 
troduced into the islands. Many similar instances of this hoary 
headed indifference to human life, are to be met with in all 
countries. 

III. Agreeably to our order, I should proceed next to men- 
tion the vices of physicians towards their professional brethren, 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 299 

but for obvious reasons, I shall pass over this disagreeable part 
of our subject in silence, and hasten, with pleasure, to speak of 
the VIRTUES of physicians. 

Here a delightful field opens to our view. It will be impossible 
to mark every part of it with our footsteps. I shall, therefore, 
only mention those virtues, which are most conspicuous and 
practical in the members of our profession. 

i. Piety towards God has, in many instances, characterized 
some of the first physicians in ancient and modern times. Hip- 
pocrates did homage to the gods of Greece, and Galen van- 
quished atheism for a while, in Rome, by proving the existence 
of a god, from the curious structure of the human body. Botallus, 
the illustrious father of blood-letting, in Europe, in a treatise, 
"de munere medici ct aegri," advises a physician, when called 
to visit a patient, never to leave his house, without offering up 
a prayer to God, for the success of his prescriptions. Cheselden, 
the famous English anatomist, always implored, in the presence 
of his pupils, the aid and blessing of heaven upon his hand, 
whenever he laid hold of an instrument, to perform a surgical 
operation. Sydenham, the great luminary and reformer of medi- 
cine, was a religious man. Boerhaave spent an hour in his closet, 
every morning, in reading the scriptures, before he entered upon 
the duties of his profession. Hoffman and Stahl were not ashamed 
of the gospel of Christ, and Dr. Haller has left behind him, an 
eloquent defence of it in a series of letters to his daughter. 
Dr. Lobb exhibited daily, for many years, to the citizens of Lon- 
don, his reliance upon divine aid to render his practice successful, 
by inscribing "Deo adjuvante" upon his family amis, which were 
painted upon his chariot. Dr. FothergilPs long life resembled 
an altar, from which, incense of adoration and praise ascended 
daily to the Supreme Being. Dr. Hartley, whose works will 
probably perish, only with time itself, was a devout Christian. 
To the record of these medical worthies, I shall add but one 
remark, and that is, the weight of their names alone, in favour 
of revelation, is sufficient to turn the scale against all the infidelity, 
that has ever dishonoured the science of medicine. 



3 oo SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

2. Humanity has been a conspicuous virtue among physicians 
in all ages and countries. It manifests itself, 

i st. In their sacrifices and sufferings, in order to acquire a 
knowledge of all the different branches of medicine. For this, 
they spend months, and years, in dissecting dead bodies, or in 
the smoke of laboratories; or in visiting foreign, and sometimes 
uncivilized countries; or in making painful and expensive experi- 
ments upon living animals. Many physicians have contracted 
diseases, and some have perished in these loathsome and danger- 
ous enterprizes, all of which are intended for the benefit of their 
fellow-creatures. 

zd. No sooner do they enter upon the duties of their pro- 
fession, than they are called upon to exhibit their humanity by 
sympathy, with pain and distress in persons of all r+inks. It is this 
heaven-born principle, which produces such acts of self-denial 
of company, pleasure, and sleep, in physicians. It is this, which 
enables them to sustain the extremes of heat and cold, and the 
most laborious exertions of body and mind. Hippocrates, who 
furnished the earliest, has likewise exhibited the most prominent 
example of this divine form of humanity, of any physician that 
ever lived. One while we behold him travelling through the cities 
and provinces of Greece, dispensing health and joy wherever 
he went. Again, we sec him yielding to the solicitations of neigh- 
bouring princes, and extending the blessings of his skill to foreign 
nations. "There was but one sentiment in his soul" says Galen, 
"and that was the love of doing good, and in the course of his 
long life, but a single act, and that was the relieving the sick" 
It was, from the influence which his humane feelings had upon 
his judgment, that he has left the following remark upon record, 
in speaking of the education of a young man, intended for the 
study of medicine. "Does he suffer" says the venerable man, 
"with the sufferings of others? does he naturally feel the tender- 
est commiseration for the woes incident to his fellow mortals? 
you may reasonably infer that he will be passionately devoted 
to an art, that will instruct him in what manner to afford them 
relief." This noble sympathy, in physicians, is sometimes so 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 301 

powerful, as to predominate over the fear of death; hence we 
observe them to expose, and frequently to sacrifice their lives, 
in contending with mortal epidemics. The United States have 
lately furnished numerous instances of death in physicians, from 
their ardent attachment to their patients. The grave-yards of 
Philadelphia alone hold the precious relicts of three and twenty 
members of our profession, who have died martyrs to this affec- 
tionate and heroic sympathy, since the year 1793. 

3d. Humanity in physicians manifests itself in gratuitous 
services to the poor. The greatest part of the business of Dr. 
Sydenham, seems to have been confined to poor people. It is true, 
he now and then speaks of a noble lady, and of a learned prelate, 
in the history of cases, but these were accidental patients. The 
fashionable part of the citizens of London were deterred from 
consulting him, by the clamours excited against his new practice, 
by his medical brethren, particularly by Dr. Morton, whom 
Dr. Haller calls "the rival and adversary" of this excellent man. 
Dr. Boerhaave did a great deal of business among the poor. In 
his attendance upon them, he discovered, it is said, more solicitude 
and punctuality, than in his attendance upon his rich patients. 
Being asked by a friend his reason for so doing, he answered, 
"I esteem the poor my best patients, for God is their pay-master." 
Dr. Cullen spent the first years of his long and useful life, in 
doing business, for which he was never paid, and when he rose 
to the first rank in his profession, did not forget that humble 
class of people, from whom he derived his knowledge and repu- 
tation. Dr. Fothergill devoted an hour every morning, before he 
left his house, to prescribing for the poor, and in his annual visit 
to Leahall, in Cheshire, he spent one day of every week, in the 
same humane and benevolent business. Public dispensaries were 
projected, and are still conducted, chiefly by physicians. These 
excellent institutions mark an aera in the history of human 
beneficence. They yearly save many thousand lives. 

4th. Humanity in physicians discovers itself in pecuniary 
contributions, as well as in advice, for the relief of the poor. 
I have read an account of a physician in England, who gave all 



302 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

the fees he received on a Sunday, to charitable purposes. Dr. 
Heberdeen's liberality to the poor was so great, that he was once 
told by a friend, that he would exhaust his fortune. "No," said 
he, "after all my charities, I am afraid I shall die shamefully 
rich." Dr. Fothergill once heard of the death of a citizen of 
London, who had left his family in indigent circumstances. 
As soon as he was interred, the doctor called upon his widow, 
and informed her, that he had, some years before, received 
thirty guineas for as many visits he had paid her husband in the 
days of his prosperity. "I have since heard," said the doctor 
"of his reverse of fortune. Take this purse. It contains all that 
I received from him. It will do thy family more good, than it 
will do me." A poor curate, who lived in the city of London 
upon fifty pounds a year, called upon this worthy man for 
advice for his wife and five children, who were ill of an epidemic 
disease, then prevalent in that city. The doctor, without being 
requested, visited them the next day, and attended them daily 
till they were all cured. The curate, by great exertions, saved 
a trifling sum of money, which he offered to the doctor, as a 
compensation for his services. He refused to receive it ... but 
this was not all ... he put ten guineas into his hand, and 
begged him, at the same time, to apply to him for relief in all 
his future difficulties.* Similar anecdotes of his liberality might 
be multiplied without end. It is said, he gave away one half 
of all the income of his extensive and lucrative business, amount- 
ing, in the course of his life, to one hundred thousand pounds. 
What an immense interest in honour and happiness must this 
sum produce to him at the general judgment! With what un- 
speakable gratitude and delight, may we not suppose the many 
hundred, and perhaps thousand persons, whom he has fed, 
clothed, and rescued from prison and death by his charities, 
will gaze upon their benefactor in that solemn day, while the 
Supreme Judge credits them all, as done to himself, in the pres- 
ence of an assembled world. 

* Lettsom's Life of Fothergill. 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 303 

III. Physicians have been distinguished in many instances, for 
their patriotism. By this virtue, I mean a disposition to promote 
all the objects of utility, convenience, and pleasure, and to re- 
move all the evils of the country to which we belong. It embraces 
all the interests and wants of every class of citizens, and manifests 
itself in a great variety of forms. I shall briefly enumerate them. 

i st. It appears in acts of liberality to promote science, and 
particularly medicine. The British Museum was the gift of a 
physician to the British nation. Dr. Radcliff founded a library 
at Oxford, and bequeathed three hundred pounds to be applied 
to the maintenance of a constant succession of students of medi- 
cine, who should spend three years in foreign countries, in search 
of medical knowledge. Dr. Fothergill gave one hundred guineas 
a year to Dr. Priestley, to defray the expenses of his chemical 
laboratory. But the patronage afforded to science by that great 
man, was not confined to his own country. The Pennsylvania 
hospital will preserve, I hope, to the end of time, a testimony 
of his munificence, in the elegant casts and paintings of the gravid 
uterus, which compose a part of the museum of that institution. 

zd. Patriotism in physicians has discovered itself in attempts 
and plans to obviate the prevailing diseases of their native coun- 
try. Hippocrates was once invited by the kings of Illyria and 
Peonia, to come to the relief of their subjects, who were afflicted 
by the plague. He inquired of the messenger, into the course of 
the winds in those countries. Upon being informed of their direc- 
tion, he concluded the same disease would visit Athens, and de- 
clined the honour intended him, that he might devote himself 
immediately to the means of saving a city of his own country 
from destruction. A physician delivered Calcutta from an epi- 
demic malignant fever, by pointing out a new and effectual 
mode of conveying off its filth. The city of Frankfort, in Ger- 
many, was saved from an occasional pestilence, by a physician 
tracing its origin to a number of offensive privies. The physicians 
of all the cities in the United States (Philadelphia excepted), 
have, with nearly perfect unanimity, derived our annual bilious 
plague from domestic sources, and recommended remedies for it, 



3 o 4 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

which, if adopted, would ensure a perpetual exemption of our 
country from it. The many excellent treatises upon the means 
of preventing diseases, from errors in diet, dress, exercise and the 
like, that have been published by physicians in all ages and coun- 
tries, show that self-love is a weaker principle in them, than a 
regard to the general health and welfare of their fellow- 
citizens. 

3d. Physicians have contributed largely to the prosperity of 
their respective countries, by recommending and patronizing 
plans for promoting agriculture, commerce, morals and literature. 
Dr. Fothergill's garden at Upton, was a kind of hotbed of useful 
plants, for the whole nation. His active mind was always busy 
in devising public improvements that were calculated to increase 
the wealth, the knowledge, the happiness and even the elegance 
of his country. Dr. Black, Dr. Home and Dr. Hunter, have all 
benefitted the British empire, by the application of their chemical 
researches to national purposes, particularly to agriculture and 
manufactures. 

4th. Physicians have in all ages exhibited an attachment to 
the independence, peace, and liberties of their country. Hip- 
pocrates by his influence in forming an alliance with the Thessa- 
lians, delivered his native island of Cos from a war with the 
Athenians. Dr. Fothergill spent years of anxiety in fruitless 
efforts to prevent the effusion of kindred blood, in the war which 
separated the United States from Great Britain. He likewise 
suggested a plan for securing a perpetual peace between the 
nations of Europe, by the ties of interest, founded upon com- 
merce. There was not a state in our Union, during the late 
struggle with Great Britain for our independence, which did 
not furnish instances of this form of patriotism in physicians. 
Warren and Mercer both turned their backs upon profitable 
and extensive business, when they led their countrymen into the 
field, and fell at the head of their troops, bravely fighting for 
the liberties of their country. Many of the most distinguished 
characters in medicine, in Europe, are friends to liberty, and a 
great majority of the physicians in the United States, are warmly 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 305 

attached to the principles, and form of our excellent republican 
Constitution. 

If you feel, gentlemen, in hearing these details of the exploits 
of the illustrious worthies of our profession, as I do in relating 
them, you will not regret the day, you devoted yourselves to the 
study of medicine. 

But there are certain minor virtues which have adorned the 
characters of physicians, that should not pass unnoticed in 
this place. 

i st. They have often discovered the most extraordinary 
instances of candour, in acknowledging mistakes both of opinion 
and practice. Hippocrates has left a testimony against himself, 
of the loss of a patient, from his inability to distinguish between 
a suture, and a fracture of the skull; and Dr. Sydenham tells, 
that he generally lost several of the first patients whom he visited 
in a new epidemic. This candour is the more meritorious in 
physicians, as it seldom fails to lessen their credit with the world. 

zd. The most disinterested and exalted acts of generosity, 
have often been exhibited by physicians to each other. Dr. Friend 
was once confined for an offensive act against the British gov- 
ernment. During this time, Dr. Mead attended his patients. After 
his liberation, Dr. Mead called upon him, and gave him several 
thousand guineas. "Take them," said Dr. Mead. "They are not 
mine. I received them all from your patients." This act was the 
more meritorious, as they were competitors for business and 
fame. Similar instances of generosity are common among physi- 
cians, though upon a less scale, in all countries. 

3d. The most delicate friendships have often subsisted be- 
tween physicians. Dr. Fothergill and Dr. Russell were contem- 
poraries in the college of Edinburgh. They passed the greatest 
part of their lives in a constant exchange of kind offices. The 
eulogium upon Dr. Russell, delivered before the society of 
physicians, in London, by Dr. Fothergill, does equal honour 
to the characters of each of them. 

4th. Physicians often perform essential services to the families 
in which they are employed, by directing the education of their 



306 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

children, by preventing, or healing family disputes, and by their 
advice and influence in the pursuits and management of the 
common affairs of life. 

5th. As sons, brothers, and parents, physicians have often ex- 
hibited the most shining examples of domestic virtue. Dr. Tissot 
was invited to Warsaw, by the late king of Poland, in order to 
become the physician of his court. He prepared immediately to 
accept the offer, but upon being told by his aged father, that 
he would not accompany him, the doctor declined the royal 
invitation, and ended his days in an obscure situation, in his 
native country. One of the last journeys of Dr. FothcrgilPs life 
was to pay a tribute of respect to his father's grave in Yorkshire. 
He was accompanied in this journey by his sister, who had been 
his companion, and housekeeper for forty ycars ; I shall give an 
account of this pious excursion in his own words. "To see that 
our father's sepulchre was not laid open to the beasts of the 
field, but secured from the ravages of neglect, was to us a 
pleasing duty. Firmly persuaded that we had not the least cause 
to mourn upon his account; and nothing left more becoming 
us, than to call to mind his precepts, and examples, we left the 
solitary spot with hearts full of reverent thankfulness, that such 
was our father, and that we were so far favoured, as to be able 
to remember him with gratitude and affection." 

From a review of what has been said of the vices and virtues 
of physicians, the following inferences may fairly be deduced. 

i st. That their vices are fewer in number, and of less mag- 
nitude, than their virtues. 

id. That the profession of medicine, favours the practice of 
all the religious, moral and social duties. A physician of course 
who is a bad man, is more inexcusable than a bad man of any 
other profession, a minister of the gospel excepted. 

3d. That the aggregate mass of physical misery that has ex- 
isted in the world, owes more of its relief to physicians, than to 
any other body of men. 

Let us learn then, gentlemen, duly to appreciate the profession 
we have chosen, by acting agreeably to the duties it imposes, 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 307 

and the honours it has acquired. With this short application of 
the subject of our lecture, I bid you welcome to our school of 
medicine! The door you have entered, and the room you now 
occupy, are devoted to Science and Humanity. Let nothing in- 
compatible with the time and attention which they claim, ever 
find a place within these walls. As far as it shall please God to 
enable me, by the continuance of my health, you may rely upon 
my seconding your diligence, and that I shall consider my obli- 
gations to you, as my chief duty during the winter. 



DUTIES OF A PHYSICIAN 
A Closing Lecture to Medical Students 



I SHALL, first, suggest the most probable means of establishing 
yourselves in business, and of becoming acceptable to your 
patients, and respectable in life. 

Secondly. I shall mention a few thoughts which have occurred 
to me on the mode to be pursued, in the further prosecution of 
your studies, and for the improvement of medicine. 

I. Permit me, in the first place, to recommend to such of 
you as intend to settle in the country, to establish yourselves as 
early as possible upon farms. My reasons for this advice are as 
follow. 

1. It will reconcile the country people to the liberality and 
dignity of your profession, by showing them that you assume no 
superiority over them from your education, and that you intend 
to share with them in those toils, which were imposed upon man 
in consequence of the loss of his innocence. This will prevent 
envy, and render you acceptable to your patients as men, as well 
as physicians. 

2. By living on a farm you may serve your country by pro- 
moting improvements in agriculture. Chemistry (which is now 
an important branch of a medical education) and agriculture are 
closely allied to each other. Hence some of the most useful books 
upon agriculture have been written by physicians. Witness the 
essays of Dr. Home of 'Edinburgh, and of Dr. Hunter of York- 
shire in England. 

3. The business of a farm will furnish you with employment 

308 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 309 

in the healthy seasons' of the year, and thereby deliver you from 
the tedium vitae, or what is worse, from retreating to low or 
improper company. Perhaps one cause of the prevalence of dram 
or grog drinking, with which country practitioners are some- 
times charged, is owing to their having no regular or profitable 
business to employ them in the intervals of their attendance upon 
their patients. 

4. The resources of a farm will create such an independence 
as will enable you to practice with more dignity, and at the same 
time screen you from the trouble of performing unnecessary 
services to your patients. It will change the nature of the obliga- 
tion between you and them. While money is the only means 
of your subsistence, your patients will feel that they are the 
channels of your daily bread; but while your farm furnishes you 
with the necessaries of life, your patients will feel more sensibly 
that the obligation is on their side, for health and life. 

5. The exigencies and wants of a farm, in stock and labor 
of all kinds, will enable you to obtain from your patients a com- 
pensation for your services in those articles. They all possess 
them; and men part with that of which money is only the sign, 
much more readily than they do with money itself. 

6. The resources of a farm will prevent your cherishing, for 
a moment, an impious wish for the prevalence of sickness in your 
neighbourhood. A healthy season will enable you to add to the 
produce of your farm, while the rewards of an unhealthy season 
will enable you to repair the inconvenience of your necessary 
absence from it. By these means your pursuits will be marked 
by that variety and integrity, in which true happiness is said 
to consist. 

7. Let your farms be small, and let your principal attention 
be directed to grass and horticulture. These afford most amuse- 
ment, require only moderate labor, and will interfere least with 
your duties to your profession. 

II. Avoid singularities of every kind in your manners, dress, 
and general conduct. Sir Isaac Newton, it is said, could not be 
distinguished in company, by any peculiarity, from a common 



3io SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

well-bred gentleman. Singularity in any thing, is a substitute for 
such great or useful qualities as command respect; and hence we 
find it chiefly in little minds. The profane and indelicate com- 
bination of extravagant ideas, improperly called wit, and a 
formal and pompous manner, whether accompanied by a wig, 
a cane, or a ring, should all be avoided, as incompatible with the 
simplicity of science and the real dignity of physic. There is 
more than one way of playing the quack. It is not necessary, 
for this purpose, that a man should advertise his skill, or his cures, 
or that he should mount a phaeton and display his dexterity in 
operating to an ignorant and gaping multitude. A physician acts 
the same part in a different way, who assumes the character of 
a madman or a brute in his manners, or who conceals his falli- 
bility by an affected gravity and taciturnity in his intercourse 
with his patients. Both characters, like the quack, impose upon 
the public. It is true, they deceive different ranks of people; but 
we must remember that there are two kinds of vulgar, viz. the 
rich and the poor; and that the rich vulgar are often below the 
poor, in ignorance and credulity. 

III. It has been objected to our profession, that many eminent 
physicians have been unfriendly to Christianity. If this be true, 
I cannot help ascribing it in part to that neglect of public wor- 
ship with which the duties of our profession are often incom- 
patible; for it has been justly observed, that the neglect of this 
religious and social duty generally produces a relaxation either 
in principles or morals. Let this fact lead you, in setting out in 
business, to acquire such habits of punctuality in visiting your 
patients, as shall not interfere with acts of public homage to the 
SUPREME BEING. Dr. Gregory has observed, that a cold heart is 
the most frequent cause of deism. Where this occurs in a physi- 
cian, it affords a presumption that he is deficient in humanity. 
But I cannot admit that infidelity is peculiar to our profession. 
On the contrary, I believe Christianity places among its friends 
more men of extensive abilities and learning, in medicine, than 
in any other secular employment. Stahl, Hoffman, Boerhaave, 
Sydenham, Holler and Fothergill, were all Christians. These en- 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 311 

lightened physicians were considered as the ornaments of the 
ages in which they lived, and posterity has justly ranked them 
among the greatest benefactors of mankind. 

IV. Permit me to recommend to you a regard to all the 
interests of your country. The education of a physician gives 
him a peculiar insight into the principles of many useful arts, and 
the practice of physic favours his opportunities of doing good, 
by diffusing knowledge of all kinds. It was in Rome, when 
medicine was practised only by slaves, that physicians were 
condemned by their profession "mutam exercere artem." But 
in modern times, and in free governments, they should disdain 
an ignoble silence upon public subjects. The history of the 
American Revolution has rescued physic from its former slavish 
rank in society. For the honor of our profession it should be 
recorded, that some of the most intelligent and useful characters, 
both in the cabinet and the field, during the late war, have been 
physicians. The illustrious Dr. Fothergill opposed faction and 
tyranny, and took the lead in all public improvements in his 
native country, without suffering thereby the least diminution 
of that reputation, or business, in which, for forty years, he 
flourished almost without a rival in the city of London. 

V. Study simplicity in the preparation of your medicines. 
My reasons for this advice are as follow. 

1. Active medicines produce the most certain effects in a 
simple state. 

2. Medicines when mixed frequently destroy the efficacy 
of each other. I do not include chemical medicines alone in this 
remark. It applies likewise to galenical medicines. Nor do I 
assert that the virtues of all these medicines are impaired by 
mixture; but we can only determine when they are not, by actual 
experiments and observation. 

3. When medicines of the same class, or even of different 
classes, are given together, the strongest only produces an effect. 
But what are we to say to a compound of two medicines which 
gives exactly the same degrees of impression to the system? The 
effect of them will probably be such, if we may judge from 



3i2 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

analogy, as would have been produced by neither in a simple 
state. 

4. By observing simplicity in your prescriptions, you will 
always have the command of a greater number of medicines of 
the same class, which may be used in succession to each other, 
in proportion as habit renders the system insensible of their 
action. 

5. By using medicines ~in a simple state, you will arrive at 
an exact knowledge of their virtues and doses, and thereby be 
able to decide upon the numerous and contradictory accounts, 
which exist in our books, of the characters of the same medicines. 

Under this head I cannot help adding two more directions. 

1. Avoid sacrificing too much to the taste of your patients, 
in the composition of your medicines. The nature of a medicine 
may, in some instances, be wholly changed, by being mixed with 
sweet substances. The Author of nature seems to have had a 
design in making medicines unpalatable. Had they been more 
agreeable to the taste, they would long ago have yielded to the 
unbounded appetites of man, and by becoming articles of diet 
or condiments, have lost their efficacy in diseases. 

2. Give as few medicines as possible in tinctures made with 
distilled spirits. Perhaps there are but few cases in which it is 
safe to exhibit medicines prepared in spirits, in any other form 
than ii> drops. Many people have been innocently seduced into 
a love of strong drink, from taking large or frequent doses of 
bitters infused in spirits. Let not our profession in a single in- 
stance be charged with adding to the calamities which have been 
entailed upon mankind by this dreadful species of intemperance. 

V. Let me advise you, in your visits to the sick, never to 
appear in a hurry, nor to talk of indifferent matters before you 
have made the necessary inquiries into the symptoms of your 
patient's disease. 

VII. Avoid making light of any case; "respice finem" should 
be the motto of every indisposition. There is scarcely a disorder 
so trifling, that has not, directly or indirectly, proved an outlet 
to human life. This consideration should make you anxious and 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 313 

punctual in your attendance upon every acute disease, and keep 
you from risking your reputation by an improper or hasty 
prognosis. 

VIII. Do not condemn, or oppose, unnecessarily, the simple 
prescriptions of your patients. Yield to them in matters of little 
consequence, but maintain an inflexible authority over them in 
matters that are essential to life. 

IX. Preserve, upon all occasions, a composed or cheerful 
countenance in the room of your patients, and inspire as much 
frope of a recovery as you can, consistent with truth, especially 
in acute diseases. The extent of the influence of the will over 
the human body, has not yet been fully ascertained. I reject the 
futile pretensions of Mr. Mesmer to the cure of diseases, by what 
he has absurdly called animal magnetism; but I am willing to 
derive the same advantages from his deceptions, which the 
chemists have derived from the delusions of the alchemists. The 
facts which he has established, clearly prove the influence of the 
imagination and will upon diseases. Let us avail ourselves of the 
aid which these powers of the mind present to us, in the strife 
between life and death. I have frequently prescribed remedies 
of doubtful efficacy in the critical stage of acute diseases, but 
never till I had worked up my patients into a confidence, bor- 
dering upon certainty, of their probable good effects. The suc- 
cess of this measure has much oftener answered, than disap- 
pointed my expectations; and while my patients have commended 
the vomit, the purge, or the blister which was prescribed, I have 
been disposed to attribute their recovery to the vigorous con- 
currence of the will in the action of the medicine. Does the will 
beget insensibility to cold, heat, hunger, and danger? Does it 
suspend pain, and raise the body above feeling the pangs of 
Indian tortures? Let us not then be surprised that it should 
enable the system to resolve a spasm, to open an obstruction, or 
to discharge an offending humor. I have only time to hint at 
this subject. Perhaps it would lead us, if we could trace it fully, 
to some very important discoveries in the cure of diseases. 

X. Permit me to advise you to attend to that principle in the 



314 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

human mind, which constitutes the association of ideas, in your 
intercourse with your patients. A chamber, a chair, a curtain, or 
even a cup, all belong to the means of life or death, accordingly 
as they are associated with cheerful or distressing ideas, in the 
mind of a patient. But this principle is of more immediate appli- 
cation in those chronic diseases which affect the mind. Nothing 
can be accomplished here, till we produce a new association of 
ideas. For this purpose, a change of place and company are abso- 
lutely necessary. But we must sometimes proceed much further. 
I have heard of a gentleman in South-Carolina, who cured his 
fits of low spirits by changing his clothes. The remedy was a 
rational one. It produced at once a new train of ideas, and thus 
removed the paroxysm of his disease. 

XL A physician in sickness is always a welcome visitor in a 
family: hence he is solicited to partake of the usual sign of hos- 
pitality in this country, by taking a draught of some strong 
drink every time he enters into the house of a patient. Let me 
charge you to lay an early restraint upon yourselves, by refusing 
to yield to this practice, especially in the forenoon. Many physi- 
cians have been led by it into habits of drunkenness. You will 
be in the more danger of falling into this vice, from the fatigue 
and inclemency of weather to which you will be exposed in 
country practice. But you have been taught that strong drink 
affords only a temporary relief from those evils, and that it tends 
afterwards to render the body more sensible of them. 

XII. Make it a rule never to be angry at any thing a sick man 
says or does to you. Sickness often adds to the natural impatience 
and irritability of the temper. We are, therefore, to submit to 
the severe and unnecessary toils that are sometimes exacted from 
us, and to bear even the reproaches of our patients with meek- 
ness and silence. It is folly to resent injuries at any time, but it is 
cowardice to resent an injury from a sick man; since, from his 
weakness and dependence upon us, he is unable to contend with 
us upon equal terms. You will find it difficult to attach your 
patients to you by the obligation of friendship or gratitude. You 
will sometimes have the mortification of being deserted by those 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 315 

patients who owe most to your skill and humanity. This led 
Dr. Turner to advise physicians never to choose their friends 
from among their patients. But this advice can never be followed 
by a heart that has been taught to love true excellency, wherever 
it finds it. I would rather advise you to give the benevolent 
feelings of your hearts full scope, and to forget the unkind 
returns they will often meet with, by giving to human nature 
a tear. Let us not despair. From the increasing influence of 
reason and religion in our world, the time must soon come, when 
even physicians, and the brute creation, shall become the objects 
of the justice and humanity of mankind. 

XIII. Avoid giving a patient over in an acute disease. It is 
impossible to tell, in such cases, where life ends and where death 
begins. Hundreds of patients have recovered who have been 
pronounced incurable, to the great disgrace of our profession. I 
know that the practice of predicting danger and death upon 
every occasion, is sometimes made use of by physicians, in order 
to enhance the credit of their prescriptions, if their patients re- 
cover, and to secure a retreat from blame, if they should die. 
But this mode of acting is mean and illiberal. It is not necessary 
that we should decide with confidence at any time, upon the 
issue of a disease. 

XIV. Cases will frequently occur in which you will be ex- 
posed to a struggle between a regard for your own reputation, 
and for the life of a patient. In such cases, let Christianity de- 
termine what is to be done. That new commandment which 
directs us to make the measure of our love to our fellow-creatures, 
the same as the love of the x\uthor of our religion was to the 
human race, certainly requires that we should at all times risk, 
and even sacrifice reputation, to preserve the life of a fellow- 
creature. The pusillanimous, or, as he is commonly called, the 
safe physician, who, absorbed wholly in the care of his own 
reputation, views without exertion the last conflict between life 
and death in a patient, in my opinion will be found hereafter 
to have been guilty of a breach of the Sixth Commandment; 
while the conscientious, or, as he is commonly called, the bold 



316 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

physician, who loses sight of his character, and even of the 
means of his subsistence, and by the use of a remedy of doubtful 
efficacy turns the scale in favour of life, performs an act that 
borders upon divine benevolence. A physician who has pnly 
once in his life enjoyed the godlike pleasure that is connected 
with such an act of philanthropy, will never require any other 
consideration to reconcile him to the toils and duties of his 
profession. 

. XV. I shall now give some directions with respect to the 
method of charging for your services to your patients. 

When we consider the expence of a medical education, and 
the sacrifices a physician is obliged to make of ease, society, and 
even health, to his profession; and when we add to these, the 
constant and painful anxiety which is connected^ with the im- 
portant charge of the lives of our fellow-creatures, and above 
all, the inestimable value of that blessing which is the object 
of his services, I hardly know how it is possible for a patient 
sufficiently and justly to reward his physician. But when we 
consider, on the other hand, that sickness deprives men of the 
means of acquiring money; that it increases all the expenses of 
living; and that high charges often drive patients from regular- 
bred physicians to quacks; I say, when we attend to these con- 
siderations, we should make our charges as moderate as possible, 
and conform them to the following state of things. 

Avoid measuring your services to your patients by scruples, 
drachms, and ounces. It is an illiberal mode of charging. On the 
contrary, let the number and the time of your visits, the nature 
of your patient's disease, and his rank in his family or society, 
determine the figures in your accounts. It is certainly just to 
charge more for curing an apoplexy, than an intermitting fever. 
It is equally just to demand more for risking your life by visiting 
a patient in a contagious fever, than for curing a pleurisy. You 
have a right likewise to be paid for your anxiety. Charge the 
same services, therefore, higher to the master or mistress of a 
family, or to an only son or daughter, who call forth all your 
feelings and industry, than to less important members of a fam- 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 317 

ily and of society. If a rich man demands more frequent visits 
than are necessary, and if he imposes the restraints of keeping 
to hours by calling in other physicians to consult with you upon 
every trifling occasion, it will be just to make him pay accord- 
ingly for it. As this mode of charging is strictly agreeable to 
reason and equity, it seldom fails of according with the reason 
and sense of equity of our patients. Accounts made out upon 
these principles, are seldom complained of by them. I shall only 
remark further upon this subject, that the sooner you send in 
your accounts after your patients recover, the better. It is the 
duty of a physician to inform his patient of the amount of his 
obligation to him at least once a year. But there are times when 
a departure from this rule may be necessary. An unexpected 
misfortune in business, and a variety of other accidents, may 
deprive a patient of the money he had allotted to pay his 
physician. In this case, delicacy and humanity require, that he 
should not know the amount of his debt to his physician, till 
time has bettered his circumstances. 

I shall only add, under this head, that the poor of every 
description should be the objects of your peculiar care. Dr. 
Boerhaave used to say, u they were his best patients, because 
God was their paymaster." The first physicians that I have 
known, have found the poor the steps by which they ascended 
to business and reputation. Diseases among the lower class of 
people are generally simple, and exhibit to a physician the best 
cases of all epidemics, which cannot fail of adding to his ability 
of curing the complicated diseases of the rich and intemperate. 
There is an inseparable connection between a man's duty and 
his interest. Whenever you are called, therefore, to visit a poor 
patient, imagine you hear the voice of the good Samaritan sound- 
ing in your ears, u Take care of him, and I will repay thee." 

I come now to the second part of this address, which was 
to point out the best mode to be pursued, in the further prosecu- 
tion of your studies, and the improvement of medicine. 

I. Give me leave to recommend to you, to open all the dead 
bodies you can, without doing violence to the feelings of your 



3 i8 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

patients, or the prejudices of the common people. Preserve a 
register of the weather, and of its influence upon the vegetable 
productions of the year. Above all, record the epidemics of every 
season; their times of appearing, and disappearing, and the con- 
nection of the weather with each of them. Such records, if pub- 
lished, will be useful to foreigners, and a treasure to posterity. 
Preserve, likewise, an account of chronic cases. Record the name, 
age and occupation of your patient; describe his disease accu- 
rately, and the changes produced in it by your remedies; men- 
tion the doses of every medicine you administer to him. It is 
impossible to tell how much improvement and facility in practice 
you will derive from following these directions. It has been 
remarked, that physicians seldom remember more than the two 
or three last years of their practice. The reconJs which have 
been mentioned, will supply this deficiency of memory, espe- 
cially in that advanced stage of life when the advice of physicians 
is supposed to be most valuable. 

II. Permit me to recommend to you further, the study of 
the anatomy (if I may be allowed the expression) of the human 
mind, commonly called metaphysics. The reciprocal influence of 
the body and mind upon each other, can only be ascertained by 
an accurate knowledge of the faculties of the mind, and of their 
various modes of combination and action. It is the duty of physi- 
cians to assert their prerogative, and to rescue the mental science 
from the usurpations of schoolmen and divines. It can only be 
perfected by the aid and discoveries of medicine. The authors I 
would recommend to you upon metaphysics, are, Butler, Locke, 
Hartly, Reid, and Beattie. These ingenious writers have cleared 
this sublime science of its technical rubbish, and rendered it both 
intelligible and useful. 

HI. Do not confine your studies and attention only to ex- 
traordinary cases. The most frequent outlets of human life are 
through the channels of common diseases. A late professor in the 
cpllege of Glasgow, when a student in one of the London hos- 
pitals, was observed to be busy in examining the pulse of a 
patient in a fever, while all his fellow students were employed 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 319 

in examining with uncommon attention the case of a child with 
two heads that had just been brought into the hospital. Upon 
being condemned by his companions for neglecting to profit by 
the examination of so new a case, he answered, "I never expect 
in the whole course of my life to see, or hear, of another child 
with two heads; but I expect to meet with fevers in my practice, 
every day of my life." This sensible answer admits of extensive 
application to the advancement of medicine. Could we eradicate 
fevers only from our bills of mortality, how much more should 
we add to the population and happiness of our country, than by 
discovering remedies for swollen membrane and abnormal dila- 
tion of blood vessels? 

IV. Let me remind you, that improvement in medicine is 
not to be derived, only from colleges and universities. Systems 
of physic are the productions of men of genius and learning; 
but those facts which constitute real knowledge, are to be met 
with in every walk of life. Remember how many of our most 
useful remedies have been discovered by quacks. Do not be 
afraid, therefore, of conversing with them, and of profiting by 
their ignorance and temerity in the practice of physic. Medicine 
has its Pharisees, as well as religion. But the spirit of this sect 
is as unfriendly to the advancement of medicine, as it is to Chris- 
tian charity. By conversing with quacks, we may convey in- 
struction to them, and thereby lessen the mischief they might 
otherwise do to society. But further. In the pursuit of medical 
knowledge, let me advise you to converse with nurses and old 
women. They will often suggest facts in the history and cure 
of diseases which have escaped the most sagacious, observers of 
nature. Even Negroes and Indians have sometimes stumbled upon 
discoveries in medicine. Be not ashamed to inquire into them. 
There is yet one more means of information in medicine which 
should not be neglected, and that is, to converse with persons 
who have recovered from indispositions without the aid of 
physicians. Examine the strength and exertions of nature in 
these cases, and mark the plain and home-made remedy to which 
they ascribe their recovery. I have found this to be a fruitful 



320 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 



source of instruction, and have been led to conclude, that if 
every man in a city, or a district, could be called upon to relate 
to persons appointed to receive and publish his narrative, an 
exact account of the effects of those remedies which accident 
or whim has suggested to him, it would furnish a very useful 
book in medicine. To preserve the facts thus obtained, let me 
advise you to record them in a book to be kept for that purpose. 
There is one more advantage that will probably attend the in- 
quiries that have been mentioned; you may discover diseases, or 
symptoms of diseases, or even laws of the animal economy, which 
have no place in our systems of nosology, or in our theories of 
physic. 

V. In dangerous cases that are plain and cotmnon, let me 
caution you against having recourse to consultations. They relax 
exertion, suspend enterprise, and lessen responsibility in a physi- 
cian. They moreover add, unnecessarily, to the expenses of a 
patient. But in difficult and obscure cases let me advise you to 
anticipate the fears of your patients, by requesting assistance. 
Such candor begets subsequent confidence and business, for truth 
is the universal interest of mankind. There are few instances in 
which any solid advantages have been derived from more than 
two physicians consulting together. Where a greater number 
are employed, the prescriptions are generally the result of neu- 
tralized opinions, and are of course often unsuccessful. The 
epitaph of Pliny, viz. "Se turba medicorum peruisse," might be 
inscribed upon the tombstones of many persons, whose sick beds 
had been sunounded by a crowd of physicians. 

VI. Let me recommend to your particular attention, the 
indigenous medicines of our country. Cultivate or prepare as 
many of them as possible, and endeavour to enlarge the materia 
medica, by exploring the untrodden fields and forests of the 
United States. The ipecacuana, the Seneca and Virginia snake 
roots, the Carolina pink-root, the spice-wood, the sassafras, the 
butter-nut, the thoroughwort, the poke, and the strammonium, 
are but a small part of the medicinal productions of America. 
I have no doubt but there are many hundred other plants which 



ON NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES 321 

now exhale invaluable medicinal virtues in the desert air. Ex- 
amine, likewise, the mineral waters, which are so various in their 
impregnation, and so common in all parts of our country. Let 
not the properties of the insects of America escape your inves- 
tigation. We have already discovered among some of them, a 
fly equal in its blistering qualities to the famous fly of Spain. 
Who knows but it may be reserved for America to furnish the 
world, from her productions, with cures for some of those dis- 
eases which now elude the power of medicine? Who knows but 
what, at the foot of the Alleghany mountain there blooms a 
flower that is an infallible cure for the epilepsy? Perhaps on the 
Monongahela, or the Potomac, there may grow a root that shall 
supply, by its tonic powers, the invigorating effects of the savage 
or military life in the cure of consumptions. Human misery 
of every kind is evidently on the decline. Happiness, like truth, 
is a unit. While the world, from the progress of intellectual, 
moral and political truth, is becoming a more safe and agreeable 
abode for man, the votaries of medicine should not be idle. All 
the doors and windows of the temple of nature have been 
thrown open by the convulsions of the late American Revolu- 
tion. This is the time, therefore, to press upon her altars. We have 
already drawn from them discoveries in morals, philosophy, and 
government, all of which have human happiness for their object. 
Let us preserve the unity of truth and happiness, by drawing 
from the same source, in the present critical moment, a knowl- 
edge of antidotes to those diseases which are supposed to be 
incurable. 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 



INFLUENCE OF THE AMERICAN 
REVOLUTION 



October i, 1788. 

THERE WERE several circumstances peculiar to the American 
Revolution, which should be mentioned previously to an account 
of the influence of the events which accompanied it, upon the 
human body. 

1. The revolution interested every inhabitant of the coun- 
try of both sexes, and of every rank and age that was capable 
of reflection. An indifferent, or neutral spectator of the contro- 
versy, was scarcely to be found in any of the states. 

2. The scenes of war and government which it introduced, 
were new to the greatest part of the inhabitants of the United 
States, and operated with all the force of novelty upon the 
human mind. 

3. The controversy was conceived to be the most important 
of any that had ever engaged the attention of mankind. It was 
generally believed by the friends of the Revolution, that the very 
existence of freedom upon our globe, was involved in the issue 
of the contest in favor of the United States. 

4. The American Revolution included in it the cares of gov- 
ernment, as well as the toils and dangers of war. The American 
mind was, therefore, frequently occupied at the same time, by 
the difficult and complicated duties of political and military life. 

5. The revolution was conducted by men who had been born 
free, and whose sense of the blessings of liberty was of course 

3*5 



326 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

more exquisite than if they had just emerged from a state of 
slavery. 

6. The greatest part of the soldiers in the armies of the 
United States had family connections and property in the 
country. 

7. The war was carried on by the Americans against a nation, 
to whom they had long been tied by the numerous obligations of 
consanguinity, laws, religion, commerce, language, interest, and 
a mutual sense of national glory. The resentments of the Ameri- 
cans of course rose, as is usual in all disputes, in proportion to 
the number and force of these ancient bonds of affection and 
union. 

8. A predilection to a limited monarchy, as an essential part 
of a free and safe government, and an attachment to the reigning 
king of Great Britain, (with a very few exceptions) were uni- 
versal in every part of the United States. 

9. There was at one time a sudden dissolution of civil gov- 
ernment in all, and of ecclesiastical establishments in several of 
the states. 

10. The expences of the war were supported by means of a 
paper currency, which was continually depreciating. 

From the action of each of these causes, and frequently from 
their combination in the same persons, effects might reasonably 
be expected, both upon the mind and body, which have seldom 
occurred; or if they have, I believe were never fully recorded 
in any age or country. 

It might afford some useful instruction, to point out the in- 
fluence of the military and political events of the revolution 
upon the understandings, passions, and morals of the citizens of 
the United States; but my business in the present inquiry, is only 
to take notice of the influence of these events upon the human 
body, through the medium of the mind. 

I shall first mention the effects of the military, and secondly, 
of the political events of the revolution. The last must be con- 
sidered in a two-fold view, accordingly as they affected the 
friends or the enemies of the revolution. 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 327 

I. In treating of the effects of the military events, I shall 
take notice, first, of the influence of actwl war, and, secondly, 
of the influence of the military life. 

In the beginning of a battle, I have observed thirst to be a 
very common sensation among both officers and soldiers. It 
occurred where no exercise, or action of the body, could have 
excited it. 

Many officers have informed me, that after the first onset 
in a battle, they felt a glow of heat, so universal as to be per- 
ceptible in both their ears. This was the case in a particular 
manner, in the battle of Princeton, on the third of January in 
the year 1777, on which day the weather was remarkable cold. 

A veteran colonel of a New England regiment, whom I vis- 
ited at Princeton, and who was wounded in the hand at the 
battle of Monmouth, on the 28th of June, 1778, (a day in which 
the mercury stood at 90 of Fahrenheit's thermometer) after de- 
scribing his situation at the time he received his wound, con- 
cluded his story by remarking, that "fighting was hot work on a 
cold day, but much more so on a warm day." The many in- 
stances which appeared after that memorable battle, of soldiers 
who were found among the slain without any marks of wounds 
or violence upon their bodies, were probably occasioned by the 
heat excited in the body by the emotions of the mind, being 
added to that of the atmosphere. 

Soldiers bore operations of every kind immediately after 
a battle, with much more fortitude than they did at any time 
afterwards. 

The effects of the military life upon the human body come 
next to be considered under this head. 

In another place I have mentioned three cases of pulmonary 
consumption being perfectly cured by the diet and hardships of 
a camp life. 

Doctor Blane, in his valuable observations on the diseases 
incident to seamen, ascribes the extraordinary healthiness of the 
British fleet in the month of April 1782, to the effects produced 
on the spirit of the soldiers and seamen, by the victory obtained 



328 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

over the French fleet on the mh of that month; and relates, 
upon the authority of Mr. Ives, an instance in the war between 
Great Britain and the combined powers of France and Spain 
in 1744, in which the scurvy, as well as other diseases, were 
checked by the prospect of a naval engagement. 

The American army furnished an instance of the effects of 
victory upon the human mind, which may serve to establish 
the inferences from the facts related by Doctor Blane. The 
Philadelphia militia who joined the remains of General Wash- 
ington's army, in December 1776, and shared with them a few 
days afterwards in the capture of a large body of Hessians at 
Trenton, consisted of 1500 men, most of whom had been accus- 
tomed to the habits of a city life. These men slept in tents and 
barns, and sometimes in the open air during the" usual colds of 
December and January; and yet there were only two instances 
of sickness, and only one of death, in that body of men in the 
course of nearly six weeks, in those winter months. This extraor- 
dinary healthiness of so great a number of men under such trying 
circumstances, can only be ascribed to the vigour infused into 
the human body by the victory of Trenton having produced 
insensibility to all the usual remote causes of diseases. 

Militia officers and soldiers, who enjoyed good health during 
a campaign, were often affected by fevers and other disorders, 
as soon as they returned to their respective homes. I knew one 
instance of a militia captain, who was seized with convulsions 
the first night he lay on a feather bed, after sleeping several 
months on a mattress, or upon the ground. These affections 
of the body appeared to be produced only by the sudden abstrac- 
tion of that tone in the system which was excited by a sense 
of danger, and the other invigorating objects of a military 
life. 

The NOSTALGIA of Doctor Cullen, or the home-sickness, was 
a frequent disease in the American army, more especially among 
the soldiers of the New England states/ But this disease was 
suspended by the superior action of the mind under the influ- 
ence of the principles which governed common soldiers in the 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 329 

American army. Of this General Gates furnished me with a 
remarkable instance in 1776, soon after his return from the 
command of a large body of regular troops and militia at 
Ticonderoga. From the effects of the nostalgia, and the feeble- 
ness of the discipline, which was exercised over the militia, 
desertions were very frequent and numerous in his army, in the 
latter part of the campaign; and yet during the three weeks in 
which the general expected every hour an attack to be made 
upon him by General Burgoyne, there was not a single desertion 
from his army, which consisted at that time of 10,000 men. 

The patience, firmness, and magnanimity with which the 
officers and soldiers of the American army endured the com- 
plicated evils of hunger, cold, and nakedness, can only be 
ascribed to an insensibility of body produced by an uncom- 
mon tone of mind excited by the love of liberty and their 
country. 

Before I proceed to the second general division of this sub- 
ject, I shall take notice, that more instances of apoplexies oc- 
curred in the city of Philadelphia, in the winter of 1774-5, than 
had been known in former years. I should have hesitated in 
recording this fact, had I not found the observation supported 
by a fact of the same kind, and produced by a nearly similar 
cause, in the appendix to the practical works of Doctor Baglivi, 
professor of physic and anatomy at Rome. After a very wet 
season in the winter of 16945, he informs us, that "apoplexies 
displayed their rage; and perhaps (adds our author) that some 
part of this epidemic illness was owing to the universal grief 
and domestic care, occasioned by all Europe being engaged 
in a war. All commerce was disturbed, and all the avenues of 
peace blocked up, so that the strongest heart could scarcely bear 
the thoughts of it." The winter of 1774-5, was a period of 
uncommon anxiety among the citizens of America. Every coun- 
tenance wore the marks of painful solicitude, for the event of a 
petition to the throne of Britain, which was to determine whether 
reconciliation, or a civil war, with all its terrible and distressing 
consequences, were to take place. The apoplectic fit, which de- 



SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

prived the world of the talents and virtues of Peyton Randolph, 
while he filled the chair of Congress in 1775, appeared to be 
occasioned in part by the pressure of the uncertainty of those 
great events upon his mind. To the name of this illustrious 
patriot, several others might be added, who were affected by 
the apoplexy in the same memorable year. At this time a differ- 
ence of opinion upon the subject of the contest with Great 
Britain, had scarcely taken place among the citizens of 
America. 

II. The political events of the revolution produced different 
effects upon the human body, through the medium of the mind, 
accordingly as they acted upon the friends or enemies of the 
revolution. 

I shall first describe its effects upon the former class of citi- 
zens of the United States. 

Many persons of infirm and delicate habits, were restored 
to perfect health, by the change of place, or occupation, to which 
the war exposed them. This was the case in a more especial 
manner with hysterical women, who were much interested in 
the successful issue of the contest. The same effects of a civil 
war upon the hysteria, were observed by Doctor Cullen in Scot- 
land, in the years 1745 and 1746. It may perhaps help to extend 
our ideas of the influence of the passions upon diseases, to add, 
that when either love, jealousy, grief, or even devotion, wholly 
engross the female mind, they seldom fail, in like manner, to 
cure or to suspend hysterical complaints. 

An uncommon cheerfulness prevailed everywhere, among 
the friends of the Revolution. Defeats, and even the loss of re- 
lations and property, were soon forgotten in the great objects 
of the war. 

The population in the United States was more rapid from 
births during the war, than it had ever been in the same num- 
ber of years since the settlement of the country. 

I am disposed to ascribe this increase of births chiefly to the 
quantity and extensive circulation of money, and to the facility 
of procuring the means of subsistence during the war, which 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 331 

favored marriages among the laboring part of the people.* But 
I have sufficient documents to prove, that marriages were more 
fruitful than in former years, and that a considerable number of 
unfruitful marriages became fruitful during the war. In 1783, 
the year of the peace, there were several children born of parents 
who had lived many years together without issue. 

Mr. Hume informs us, in his History of England, that some 
old people upon hearing the news of the restoration of Charles 
the II. died suddenly of joy. There was a time when I doubted 
the truth of this assertion; but I am now disposed to believe it, 
from having heard of a similar effect from an agreeable political 
event, in the course of the American Revolution. The door- 
keeper of Congress, an aged man, died suddenly, immediately 
after hearing of the capture of Lord Cornwallis's army. His death 
was universally ascribed to a violent emotion of political joy. 
This species of joy appears to be one of the strongest emotions 
that can agitate the human mind. 

Perhaps the influence of that ardor in trade and speculation, 
which seized many of the friends of the Revolution, and which 
was excited by the fallacious nominal amount of the paper 
money, should rather be considered as a disease than as a passion. 
It unhinged the judgment, deposed the moral faculty, and filled 
the imagination, in many people, with airy and impracticable 
schemes of wealth and grandeur. Desultory manners, and a 
peculiar species of extempore conduct, were among its charac- 
teristic symptoms. It produced insensibility to cold, hunger, and 
danger. The trading towns, and in some instances the extremities 
of the United States, were frequently visited in a few hours or 
days by persons affected by this disease; and hence "to travel 
with the speed of a speculator," became a common saying in 
many parts of the country. This species of insanity (if I may 

* Wheat which was sold before the war for seven shillings and six- 
pence, was sold for several years during the war for four, and in some 
places for two and sixpence Pennsylvania currency per bushel. Beggars 
of every description disappeared in the year 1776, and were seldom seen 
till near the close of the war. 



332 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

be allowed to call it by that name) did not require the con- 
finement of a bedlam to cure it, like the South Sea madness de- 
scribed by Doctor Mead. Its remedies were the depreciation 
of the paper money, and the events of the peace. 

The political events of the Revolution produced upon its 
enemies very different effects from those which have been men- 
tioned. 

The hypochondriasis of Doctor Cullen, occurred in many 
instances in persons of this description. In some of them, the 
terror and distress of the Revolution brought on a true melan- 
cholia.* The causes which produced these diseases, may be re- 
duced to four heads, i. The loss of former power or influence 
in government. 2. The destruction of the hierarchy of the Eng- 
lish Church in America. 3. The change in the habits of diet, and 
company and manners, produced by the annihilation of just 
debts by means of depreciated paper money. And, 4. The neg- 
lect, insults, and oppression, to which the Loyalists were exposed, 
from individuals, and in several instances, from the laws of some 
of the states. 

It was observed in South Carolina, that several gentlemen 
who had protected their estates by swearing allegiance to the 
British government, died soon after the evacuation of Charles- 
ton by the British army. Their deaths were ascribed to the neg- 
lect with which they were treated by their ancient friends, who 
had adhered to the government of the United States. The disease 
was called, by the common people, the Protection fever. 

From the causes which produced this hypochondriasis, I have 
taken the liberty of distinguishing it by the specific name of 
Revolutiaw. 

In some cases, this disease was rendered fatal by exile and 
confinement; and, in others, by those persons who were afflicted 
with it, seeking relief from spirituous liquors. 

The termination of the war by the peace in 1783, did not 
terminate the American Revolution. The minds of the citizens 

* Insania partialis sine dyspepsia, of Doctor Cullen, 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 333 

of the United States were wholly unprepared for their new situ- 
ation. The excess of the passion for liberty, inflamed by the 
successful issue of the war, produced, in many people, opinions 
and conduct which could not be removed by reason nor re- 
strained by government. For a while, they threatened to render 
abortive the goodness of heaven to the United States, in de- 
livering them from the evils of slavery and war. The extensive 
influence which these opinions had upon the understandings, 
passions and morals of many of the citizens of the United States, 
constituted a species of insanity, which I shall take the liberty 
of distinguishing by the name of Anarchia. 

I hope no offence will be given by the freedom of any of 
these remarks. An inquirer after philosophical truth, should con- 
sider the passions of men in the same light that he does the laws 
of matter or motion. The friends and enemies of the American 
Revolution must have been more or less than men, if they could 
have sustained the magnitude and rapidity of the events that 
characterised it, without discovering some marks of human weak- 
ness, both in body and mind. Perhaps these weaknesses were 
permitted, that human nature might receive fresh honours in 
America, by the contending parties (whether produced by the 
controversies about independence or the national government) 
mutually forgiving each other, and uniting in plans of general 
order, and happiness. 



THE EFFECTS OF ARDENT 
SPIRITS UPON MAN 



BY ARDENT spirits, I mean those liquors only which are obtained 
by distillation from fermented substances of any kind. To their 
effects upon the bodies and minds of men, the following inquiry 
shall be exclusively confined. Fermented liquors contain so little 
spirit, and that so intimately combined with other matters, that 
they can seldom be drunken in sufficient quantities to produce 
intoxication and its subsequent effects without exciting a dis- 
relish to their taste, or pain, from their distending the stomach. 
They are, moreover, when taken in a moderate quantity, gen- 
erally innocent, and often have a friendly influence upon health 
and life. 

The effects of ardent spirits divide themselves into such as are 
of a prompt, and such as are of a chronic nature. The former 
discover themselves in drunkenness; and the latter, in a numerous 
train of diseases and vices of the body and mind. 

I. I shall begin by briefly describing their prompt or imme- 
diate effects, in a fit of drunkenness. 

This odious disease (for by that name it should be called) 
appears with more or less of the following symptoms, and most 
commonly in the order in which I shall enumerate them. 

1. Unusual garrulity. 

2. Unusual silence. 

3. Capriousness, and a disposition to quarrel. 

4. Uncommon good humor, and an insipid simpering, or 
laugh. 

5. Profane swearing and cursing. 

334 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 335 

6. A disclosure of their own or other people's secrets. 

7. A rude disposition to tell those persons in company, whom 
they know, their faults. 

8. Certain immodest actions. I am sorry to say this sign of 
the first stage of drunkenness sometimes appears in women, 
who r when sober are uniformly remarkable for chaste and decent 
manners. 

9. A clipping of words. 

10. Fighting; a black eye, or a swelled nose, often mark this 
grade of drunkenness. 

1 1 . Certain extravagant acts which indicate a temporary fit 
of madness. These are singing, hallooing, roaring, imitating the 
noises of brute animals, jumping, tearing off clothes, dancing 
naked, breaking glasses and china, and dashing other articles of 
household furniture upon the ground or floor. After a while the 
paroxysm of drunkenness is completely formed. The face now 
becomes flushed, the eyes project, and are somewhat watery, 
winking is less frequent than is natural; the under lip is pro- 
truded the head inclines a little to one shoulder the jaw falls 
belchings and hickup take place the limbs totter the whole 
body staggers. The unfortunate subject of this history next falls 
on his seat he looks around him with a vacant countenance, 
and mutters inarticulate sounds to himself he attempts to rise 
and walk: in this attempt he falls upon his side, from which he 
gradually turns upon his back: he now closes his eyes and falls 
into a profound sleep, frequently attended with snoring, and 
profuse sweats, and sometimes with such a relaxation of the 
muscles which confine the bladder and the lower bowels, as to 
produce a symptom which delicacy forbids me to mention. In 
this condition he often lies from ten, twelve, and twenty-four 
hours, to two, three, four, and five days, an object of pity and 
disgust to his family and friends. His recovery from this fit of 
intoxication is marked with several peculiar appearances. He 
opens his eyes and closes them again he gapes and stretches his 
limbs he then coughs and pukes his voice is hoarse he rises 
with difficulty, .and staggers to a chair his eyes resemble balls 



33 6 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

of fire his hands tremble he loathes the sight of food he calls 
for a glass of spirits to compose his stomach now and then he 
emits a deep-fetched sigh, or groan, from a transient twinge of 
conscience; but he more frequently scolds, and curses every 
thing around him. In this state of languor and stupidity he re- 
mains for two or three days before he is able to resume his 
former habits of business and conversation. 

Pythagoras, we are told, maintained that the souls of men 
after death expiated the crimes committed by them in this world 
by animating certain brute animals; and that the souls of those 
animals, in their turns, entered into men, and carried with them 
all their peculiar qualities and vices. This doctrine of one of the 
wisest and best of the Greek philosophers, was probably in- 
tended only to convey a lively idea of the changes which are 
induced in the body and mind of man by a fit of drunkenness. 
In folly, it causes him to resemble a calf in stupidity, an ass 
in roaring, a mad bull in quarrelling and fighting, a dog in 
cruelty, a tiger in fetor, a skunk in filthiness, a hog and in 
obscenity, a he-goat. 

It belongs to the history of drunkenness to remark, that its 
paroxysms occur, like the paroxysms of many diseases, at certain 
periods, and after longer or shorter intervals. They often begin 
with annual, and gradually increase in their frequency, until 
they appear in quarterly, monthly, weekly, and quotidian, or 
daily periods. Finally they afford scarcely any marks of remis- 
sion either during the day or the night. There was a citizen of 
Philadelphia, many years ago, in whom drunkenness appeared 
in this protracted form. In speaking of him to one of his neigh- 
bors, I said, "Does he not sometimes get drunk?" "You mean," 
said his neighbor, "is he not sometimes sober?" 

It is further remarkable, that drunkenness resembles certain 
hereditary, family, and contagious diseases. I have once known 
it to descend from a father to four out of five of his children. I 
have seen three, and once four brothers, who were born of sober 
ancestors, affected by it; and I have heard of its spreading 
through a whole family composed of members not originally 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 337 

related to each other. These facts are important, and should not 
be overlooked by parents, in deciding upon the matrimonial 
connexions of their children. 

II. Let us next attend to the chronic effects of ardent spirits 
upon the body and mind. In the body they dispose to every form 
of acute disease; they moreover excite fevers in persons pre- 
disposed to them from other causes. This has been remarked 
in all the yellow fevers which have visited the cities of the United 
States. Hard drinkers seldom escape, and rarely recover from 
them. The following diseases are the usual consequences of the 
habitual use of ardent spirits, viz. 

1. A decay of appetite, sickness at stomach, and a puking 
of bile, or a discharge of a frothy and viscid phlegm, by hawk- 
ing, in the morning. r 

2. Obstructions of the liver. The fable of Prometheus, on 
whose liver a vulture was said to prey constantly as a punish- 
ment for his stealing fire from heaven, was intended to illustrate 
the painful effects of ardent spirits upon that organ of the body. 

3. Jaundice, and dropsy of the belly and limbs, and finally 
of every cavity in the body. A swelling in the feet and legs is 
so characteristic a mark of habits of intemperance, that the 
merchants in Charleston, I have been told, cease to trust the 
planters of South Carolina as soon as they perceive it. They 
very naturally conclude industry and virtue to be extinct in 
that man, in whom that symptom of disease has been produced 
by the intemperate use of distilled spirits. 

4. Hoarseness, and a husky cough, which often terminate 
in consumption, and sometimes in an acute and fatal disease of 
the lungs. 

5. Diabetes, that is, a frequent and weakening discharge of 
pale or sweetish urine. 

6. Redness, and eruptions on different parts of the body. 
They generally begin on the nose, and after gradually extending 
all over the face, sometimes descend to the limbs in the form 
of leprosy. They have been called "Rum buds," when they 
appear in the face. In persons who have occasionally survived 



338 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

these effects of ardent spirits on the skin, the face after a while 
becomes bloated, and its redness is succeeded by a death-like 
paleness. Thus, the same fire which produces a red color in iron, 
when urged to a more intense degree, produces what has been 
called a white heat. 

7. A fetid breath, composed of every thing that is offensive 
in putrid animal matter. 

8. Frequent and disgusting belchings. 

9. Epilepsy. 

10. Gout, in all its various forms of swelled limbs, colic, 
palsy, and apoplexy. 

1 1 . Lastly, madness. The late Dr. Waters, while he acted 
as house pupil and apothecary of the Pennsylvania Hospital, 
assured me, that in one-third of the patients confined by this 
terrible disease, it had been induced by ardent spirits. 

Most of the diseases which have been enumerated are of a 
mortal nature. They are more certainly induced, and terminate 
more speedily in death, when spirits are taken in such quantities, 
and at such times, as to produce frequent intoxication; but it 
may serve to remove an error with which some intemperate 
people console themselves, to remark, that ardent spirits often 
bring on fatal diseases without producing drunkenness. I have 
known many persons destroyed by them who were never com- 
pletely intoxicated during the whole course of their lives. The 
solitary instances of longevity which are now and then met with 
in hard drinkers, no more disprove the deadly effects of ardent 
spirits than the solitary instances of recoveries from apparent 
death by drowning, prove that there is no danger to life from 
a human body lying an hour or two under water. 

The body, after its death, from the use of distilled spirits, 
exhibits, by dissection, certain appearances which are of a 
peculiar nature. The fibres of the stomach and bowels are con- 
tracted abscesses, gangrene, and scar tissue are found in the 
viscera. 

Not less destructive are the effects of ardent spirits upon 
the human mind. They impair the memory, debilitate the un- 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 339 

demanding, and pervert the moral faculties. It was probably 
from observing these effects of intemperance in drinking upon 
the mind, that a law was formerly passed in Spain which ex- 
cluded drunkards from being witnesses in a court of justice. 
But the demoralizing effects of distilled spirits do not stop here. 
They produce not only falsehood, but fraud, theft, uncleanliness, 
and murder. Like the demoniac mentioned in the New Testa- 
ment, their name is "Legion," for they convey into the soul 
a host of vices and crimes. 

A more affecting spectacle cannot be exhibited than a per- 
son into whom this infernal spirit, generated by habits of in- 
temperance, has entered: it is more or less affecting, according 
to the station the person fills in a family, or in society, who is 
possessed by it. Is he a husband? How deep the anguish which 
rends the bosom of his wife! Is she a wife? Who can measure 
the shame and aversion which she excites in her husband? Is he 
the father, or is she the mother of a family of children? See their 
averted looks from their parent, and their blushing looks at each 
other! Is he a magistrate? or has he been chosen to fill a high 
and respectable station in the councils of his country? What 
humiliating fears of corruption in the administration of the laws, 
and of the subversion of public order and happiness, appear 
in the countenances of all who see him! Is he a minister of the 
Gospel? Here language fails me. If angels weep it is at such 
a sight. 

In pointing out the evils produced by ardent spirits, let us 
not pass by their effects upon the estates of the persons who 
are addicted to them. Are they inhabitants of cities? Behold! 
their houses stripped gradually of their furniture, and pawned, 
or sold by a constable, to pay tavern debts. See! their names 
upon record in the dockets of every court, and whole pages 
of newspapers filled with advertisements of their estates for 
public sale. Are they inhabitants of country places? Behold! 
their houses with shattered windows their barns with leaky 
roofs their gardens overrun with weeds their fields with 
broken fences their hogs without yokes their sheep without 



340 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

wool their cattle and horses without fat and their children, 
filthy and half clad, without manners, principles and morals. 
This picture of agricultural wretchedness is seldom of long 
duration. The farms and property thus neglected and depreciated 
are seized and sold for the benefit of a group of creditors. The 
children that were born with the prospect of inheriting them 
are bound out to service in the neighborhood; while their parents, 
the unworthy authors of their misfortunes, ramble into new and 
distant settlements, alternately fed on their way by the hand 
of charity, or a little casual labor. 

Thus we see poverty and misery, crimes and infamy, diseases 
and death, are all the natural and usual consequences of the 
intemperate use of ardent spirits. 

I have classed death among the consequences^ of hard drink- 
ing. But it is not death from the immediate hand of the Deity, 
nor from any of the instruments of it which were created by 
him: it is death from suicide. Yes thou poor degraded creature 
who art daily lifting the poisoned bowl to thy lips cease to 
avoid the unhallowed ground in which the self-murderer is in- 
terred, and wonder no longer that the sun should shine, and 
the- rain fall, and the grass look green upon his grave. Thou art 
perpetuating, gradually, by the use of ardent spirits, what he 
has effected suddenly by opium or a halter. Considering how 
many circumstances from surprise, or derangement, may palliate 
his guilt, or that (unlike yours) it was not preceded and accom- 
panied by any other crime, it is probable his condemnation will 
be less than yours at the day of judgment. 

I shall now take notice of the occasions and circumstances 
which are supposed to render the use of ardent spirits necessary, 
and endeavor to show that the arguments in favor of their use 
in such cases, are founded in error, and that in each of them 
ardent spirits, instead of affording strength to the body, increase 
the evils they are intended to relieve. 

i . They are said to be necessary in very cold weather. This 
is far from being true, for the temporary warmth they produce 
is always succeeded by a greater disposition in the body to be 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 341 

affected by cold. Warm dresses, a plentiful meal just before ex- 
posure to the cold, and eating occasionally a little gingerbread, 
or any other cordial food, is a much more durable method of 
preserving the heat of the body in cold weather. 

2. They are said to be necessary in very warm weather. 
Experience proves that they increase instead of lessening the 
effects of heat upon the body, and thereby dispose to diseases 
of all kinds. Even in the warm climate of the West Indies, 
Dr. Bell asserts this to be true. "Rum," says this author, "whether 
used habitually, moderately, or in excessive quantities in the 
West Indies, always diminishes the strength of the body, and 
renders men more susceptible of disease, and unfit for any service 
in which vigor or activity is required." As well might we throw 
oil into a house, the roof of which was on fire, in order to 
prevent the flames from extending to its inside, as pour ardent 
spirits into the stomach to lessen the effects of a hot sun upon 
the skin. 

3. Nor do ardent spirits lessen the effects of hard labor upon 
the body. Look at the horse, with every muscle of his body 
swelled from morning till night in the plough, or a team; does 
he make signs for a draught of toddy, or a glass of spirits, to 
enable him to cleave the ground, or to climb a hill? No he 
requires nothing but cool water and substantial food. There is no 
nourishment in ardent spirits. The strength they produce in 
labor is of a transient nature, and is always followed by a sense 
of weakness and fatigue. 



ON OLD AGE 



MOST OF THE facts which I shall deliver upon this subject, are the 
result of observations made during the last five years, upon per- 
sons of both sexes, who had passed the Both year of their lives. 
I intended to have given a detail of the names nmnner of life 
occupations and other circumstances of each of them; but, upon 
a review of my notes, I found so great a sameness in the history 
of most of them, that I despaired, by detailing them, of answer- 
ing the intention which I have purposed in the following essay. 1 
shall, therefore, only deliver the facts and principles which arc 
the result of the inquiries and observations I have made upon this 
subject. 

I. I shall mention the circumstances which favor the attain- 
ment of longevity. 

II. I shall mention the phenomena of body and mind which 
attend it: and, 

III. I shall enumerate its peculiar diseases, and the remedies 
which arc most proper to remove, or moderate them. 

I. The circumstances which favor longevity, are, 
i. Dcscem from long-lived Ancestors. I have not found a 
single instance of a person, who has lived to be 80 years old, 
in whom this was not the case. In some instances I found the 
descent was only from one, but in general, it was from both 
parents. The knowledge of this fact may serve, not only to assist 
in calculating what are called the chances of lives, but it may be 
made useful to a physician. He may learn from it to cherish 

34* 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 343 

hopes of his patients in chronic, and in some acute diseases, in 
proportion to the capacity of life they have derived from their 
ancestors.* 

2. Temperance in Eating and Drinking. To this remark I 
found several exceptions. I met with one man of 84 years of age, 
who had been intemperate in eating; and four or five persons 
who had been intemperate in drinking ardent spirits. They had 
all been day-labourers, or had deferred drinking until they began 
to feel the languor of old age. I did not meet with a single person 
who had not, for the last forty or fifty years of their lives, used 
tea, coffee, and bread and butter twice a day as part of their diet. 
I am disposed to believe that those articles of diet do not materi- 
ally affect the duration of human life, although they evidently 
impair the strength of the system. The duration of life does not 
appear to depend so much upon the strength of the body, or 
upon the quantity of its excitability, as upon an exact accommo- 
dation of stimuli to each of them. A watch spring will last as 
long as an anchor, provided the forces which are capable of 
destroying both, arc always in an exact ratio to their strength. 
The use of tea and coffee in diet seems to be happily suited to 
the change which has. taken place in the human body, by seden- 
tary occupations, by which means less nourishment and stimulus 
are required than formerly, to support animal life. 

3. The moderate exercise of the Understanding. It has long 
been an established truth, that literary men (other circumstances 
being equal) are longer lived than other people. But it is not 
necessary that the understanding should be employed upon philo- 
sophical subjects to produce this influence upon human life. 
Business, politics, and religion, which are the objects of attention 



* Dr. Franklin, who died in his 84th year, was descended from long- 
lived parents. His father died at 89, and his mother at 87. His father had 
17 children by two wives. The Doctor informed me that he once sat 
down as one of u adult sons and daughters at his father's table. In an 
excursion he once made to that part of England from whence his family 
migrated to America, he discovered in a grave-yard, the tomb-stones of 
several persons of his name, who had lived to be very old. These persons 
he supposed to have been his ancestors. 



344 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

of men of all classes, impart a vigour to the understanding, which, 
by being conveyed to every part of the body, tends to produce 
health and long life. 

4. Equanimity of te?tiper. The violent and irregular action of 
the passions tends to wear away the springs of life. 

Persons who live upon annuities in Europe have been ob- 
served to be longer lived, in equal circumstances, than other 
people. This is probably occasioned by their being exempted, by 
the certainty of their subsistence from those fears of want which 
so frequently distract the minds, and thereby weaken the bodies 
of old people. Life-rents have been supposed to have the same 
influence in prolonging life. Perhaps the desire of life, in order 
to enjoy for as long a time as possible, that property which can- 
not be enjoyed a second time by a child or relation, may be an- 
other cause of the longevity of persons who live upon certain 
incomes. It is a fact, that the desire of life is a very powerful 
stimulus in prolonging it, especially when that desire is supported 
by hope. This is obvious to physicians fevery day. Despair of 
recovery is the beginning of death in all diseases. 

But obvious and reasonable as the effects of equanimity of 
temper are upon human life, there are some exceptions in favour 
of passionate men and women having attained to a great age. The 
morbid stimulus of anger, in these cases, was probably obviated 
by less degrees, or less active exercises of the understanding, or 
by the defect or weakness of some of the other stimuli which 
keep up the motions of life. 

5. Matrimony. In the course of my inquiries, I met with only 
one person beyond eighty years of age who had never been 

married. 1 met with several women who had borne from 

ten to twenty children, and suckled them all. I met with one 
woman, a native of Herefordshire in England, who is now in the 
rooth year of her age, who bore a child at 60, menstruated till 
80, and frequently suckled two of her children (though born 
in succession to each other) at the same time. She had passed 
the greatest part of her life over a washing-tub. 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 345 

6. Emigration. I have observed many instances of Europeans 
who have arrived in America in the decline of life, who have 
acquired fresh vigour from the impression of our climate, and 
of new objects upon their bodies and minds; and whose lives, 
in consequence thereof, appeared to have been prolonged for 
many years. 

7. I have not found Sedentary Employments to prevent long 
life, where they are not accompanied by intemperance in eating 
or drinking. This observation is not confined to literary men, 
nor to women only, in whom longevity, without much exercise 
of body, has been frequently observed. I met with one instance 
of a weaver; a second of a silver-smith; and a third of a shoe- 
maker, among the number of old people, whose histories have 
suggested these observations. 

8. I have not found that acute, nor that all chronic diseases 
shorten human life. Dr. Franklin had two successive cavities in 
his lungs before he was 40 years old. I met with one man beyond 
80, who had survived a most violent attack of the yellow fever; 
a second who had several of his bones fractured by falls, and in 
frays; and many who had been frequently affected by inter- 
mittent fever. I met with one man of 86, who had all his life 
been subject to fainting; another who had for 50 years been 
occasionally affected by a cough; * and two instances of men 
who had been afflicted for forty years with obstinate head-aches. f 
I met with only one person beyond 80, who had ever been 
affected by a disorder in the stomach-, and in him, it arose from 
an occasional rupture. Mr. John Strangeways Button, of this 
city, who died last year, in the lopth year of his age, informed 
me, that he had never vomited in his life. This circumstance 
is the more remarkable, as he passed several years at sea when 



* This man's only remedy for his cough was the fine powder of dry 
Indian turnip and honey. 

f Dr. Thiery says, That he did not find the itch, or slight degrees of 
the leprosy, to prevent longevity. Observations de Physique, et de Medi- 
cine fakes en differens lieux de L'Espagne. Vol. II. p. 171. 



346 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

a young man. J These facts may serve to extend our ideas of the 
importance of a healthy state of the stomach in the animal econ- 
omy; and thereby to add to our knowledge in the prognosis of 
diseases, and in the chances of human life. 

9. I have not found the loss of teeth to affect the duration 
of human life, so much as might be expected. Fxlward Drinker, 
who lived to be 103 years old, lost his teeth thirty years before 
he died from drawing the hot smoke of tobacco into his mouth 
through a short pipe. 

Dr. Sayrc, of New Jersey, to whom I am indebted for several 
very valuable histories of old persons, mentions one man aged 81, 
whose teeth began to decay at 16, and another of 90, who lost 
his teeth thirty years before he saw him. The gums, by becoming 
hard, perform, in part, the office of teeth. But may -not the gastric 
juice of the stomach, like the tears and urine, become acrid by 
age, and thereby supply, by a more dissolving power, the defect 
of mastication from the loss of teeth? Analogies might easily be 
adduced from several operations of nature, which go forward 
in the animal economy, which render this supposition highly 
probable. 

10. I have not observed Baldness, or Grey Hairs, occurring 
in early or middle life, to prevent old age. In one of the histories 
furnished me by Dr. Sayre, I find an account of a man of 81, 



t The venerable old man, whose history first suggested this remark, 
was born in New -York in the year 1684 His grandfather lived to be 
101, but was unable to walk for thirty years before he died, from an 
excessive quantity of fat. His mother died at 91. His constant drinks were 
water, beer, and cider. He had a fixed dislike of spirits of all kinds. His 
appetite was good, and he ate plentifully during the last years of his life. 
He seldom drank any thing between his meals. He was never intoxicated 
but twice in his life, and that was when a boy, and at sea, where he 
remembers perfectly well to have celebrated by a feu de joye the birthday 
of Queen Anne. He was formerly afflicted with the head-ache and giddi- 
ness, but never had a fever, except from the small-pox, in the course of 
his life. His pulse was slow, but regular. He had been twice married. By 
his first wife he had eight, and by his second seventeen children. One of 
them lived to be 83 years of age. He was about five feet nine inches in 
height, of a slender make, and carried an erect head to the last year of 
his life. 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 347 

whose hair began to assume a silver colour when he was only 
one-and-twenty years of age. 

I shall conclude this head by the following remark: 
Notwithstanding there appears in the human body a certain 
capacity of long life, which seems to dispose it to preserve its 
existence in -every situation; yet this capacity does not always 
protect it from premature destruction; for among the old people 
whom I examined, I scarcely met with one who had not lost 
brothers or sisters, in early and middle life, and who were born 
under circumstances equally favourable to longevity with them- 
selves. 

II. I come now to mention some of the phenomena of the 
body and mind which occur in old age. 

1 . There is a great sensibility to cold in all old people. I met 
with an old woman of 84, who slept constantly under three 
blankets and a coverlet during the hottest summer months. The 
servant of Prince de Beaufremont, who came from Mount Jura 
to Paris at the age of 1 2 1 , to pay his respects to the first National 
Assembly of France, shivered with cold in the middle of the dog 
days, when he was not near a good fire. The National Assembly 
directed him to sit with his hat on, in order to defend his head 
from the cold. 

2. Impressions made upon the ears of old people, excite sen- 
sation and reflection much quicker than when they are made 
upon their eyes. Mr. Hutton informed me, that he had fre- 
quently met his sons in the street without knowing them until 
they had spoken to him. Dr. Franklin informed me that he rec- 
ognized his friends, after a long absence from them, first by their 
voices. This fact does not contradict the common opinion, upon 
the subject of memory, for the recollection in these instances, is 
the effect of what is called reminiscence, which differs from 
memory in being excited only by the renewal of the impression 
which at first produced the idea which is revived. 

2. The appetite for food is generally increased in old age. 
The famous Parr, who died at 152, ate heartily in the last week 
of his life. The kindness of nature, in providing this last portion 



34 8 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

of earthly enjoyments for old people, deserves to be noticed. 
It is remarkable, that they have, like children, a frequent recur- 
rence of appetite, and sustain with great uneasiness the intervals 
of regular meals. The observation, therefore, made by Hip- 
pocrates, that middle aged people are more affected by absti- 
nence than those who are old, is not true. This might easily be 
proved by many appeals to the records of medicine; but old 
people differ from children, in preferring solid to liquid aliment. 
From inattention to this fact, Dr. Mead has done great mischief 
by advising old people, as their teeth decayed or perished, to 
lessen the quantity of their solid, and to increase the quantity 
of their liquid food. This advice is contrary to nature and ex- 
perience, and I have heard of two old persons who destroyed 
themselves by following it. The circulation of the ..blood is sup- 
ported in old people chiefly by the stimulus of aliment. The 
action of liquids of all kinds upon the system is weak, and of 
short continuance, compared with the durable stimulus of solid 
food. There is a gradation in the action of this food upon the 
body. Animal matters are preferred to vegetable; the fat of 
meat, to the lean, and salted meat to fresh, by most old people. 
I have met with but few old people who retained an appetite 
for milk. It is remarkable, that a less quantity of strong drink 
produces intoxication in old people than in persons in the middle 
of life. This depends upon the recurrence of the same state of 
the system, with respect to excitability, which takes place in 
childhood. Many old people, from an ignorance of this fact, have 
made shipwreck of characters which have commanded respect 
in every previous stage of their lives. From the same recurrence 
of the excitability of childhood in their systems, they commonly 
drink their tea and coffee much weaker than in early or middle 
life. 

3. The pulse is generally full, and frequently affected by 
pauses in its pulsations when felt in the wrists of old people. A 
regular pulse in such persons indicates a disease, as it shews the 
system to be under the impression of a preternatural stimulus 
of some kind. This observation was suggested to me above 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 349 

twenty years ago by Morgagni, and I have often profited by it 
in attending old people. The pulse in such patients is an un- 
certain mark of the nature or degree of an acute disease. It 
seldom partakes of the quickness or convulsive action of the 
arterial system, which attends fever in young or middle-aged 
people. I once attended a man of 77 in a fever of the bilious 
kind, which confined him for eight days to his bed, in whom I 
could not perceive the least quickness or morbid action in his 
pulse until four-and-twenty hours before he died. 

4. The marks of old age appear earlier, and are more numer- 
ous in persons who have combined with hard labour, a vegetable 
or scanty diet, than in persons who have lived under opposite 
circumstances. I think I have observed these marks of old age to 
occur sooner, and to be more numerous in the German, than 
in the English or Irish citizens of Pennsylvania. They are likewise 
more common among the inhabitants of country places, than 
of cities and still more so among the Indians of North America, 
than among the inhabitants of civilized countries. 

5. Old men tread upon the whole base of their feet at once 
in walking. This is perhaps one reason why they wear out fewer 
shoes, under the same circumstances of constant use, than young 
people, who, by treading on the posterior, and rising on the 
anterior part of their feet, expose their shoes to more unequal 
pressure and friction. The advantage derived to old people from 
this mode of walking is very obvious. It lessens that disposition 
to totter, which is always connected with weakness: hence we 
find the same mode of walking is adopted by habitual drunkards, 
and is sometimes from habit practiced by them, when they are 
not under the influence of strong drink. 

6. The memory is the first faculty of the mind which fails 
in the decline of life. While recent events pass through the mind 
without leaving an impression upon it, it is remarkable that the 
long forgotten events of childhood and youth are recalled and 
distinctly remembered. 

I met with a singular instance of a German woman, who had 
learned to speak the language of our country after she was forty 



350 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

years of age, who had forgotten every word of it after she had 
passed her Both year, but spoke the German language as fluently 
as ever she had done. The memory decays soonest in hard 
drinkers. I have observed some studious men to suffer a decay 
of their memories, but never of their understandings. Among 
these, was the late Anthony Benezet of this city. But even this 
infirmity did not abate the cheerfulness, or lessen the happiness 
of this pious philosopher, for he once told me, when I was a 
young man, that he had a consolation in the decay of his mem- 
ory, which gave him a great advantage over me. "You can read 
a good book (said he) with pleasure but once, but when I read 
a good book, I so soon forget the contents of it, that I have the 
pleasure of reading it over and over; and every time I read it, 
it is alike new and delightful to me." The celebrated Dr. Swift 
was one of those few studious men, who have exhibited marks 
of a decay of understanding in old age; but it is judiciously 
ascribed by Dr. Johnson to two causes which rescue books, 
and the exercise of the thinking powers, from having had any 
share in inducing that disease upon his mind. These causes were, 
a rash vow which he made when a young man, never to use 
spectacles, and a sordid seclusion of himself from company, by 
which means he was cut off from the use of books, and the 
benefits of conversation, the absence of which left his mind 
without its usual stimulus hence it collapsed into a state of 
fatuity. It is probably owing to the constant exercise of the 
understanding, that literary men possess that faculty of the mind 
in a vigorous state in extreme old age. The same cause accounts 
for old people preserving their intellects longer in cities, than 
in country places. They enjoy society upon such easy terms in 
the former situation, that their minds are kept more constantly 
in an excited state by the acquisition of new, or the renovation 
of old ideas, by means of conversation. 

7. I did not meet with a single instance in which the moral 
or religious faculties were impaired in old people. I do not be- 
lieve, that these faculties of the mind are preserved by any super- 
natural power, but wholly by the constant and increasing exer- 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 351 

else of them in the evening of life. In the course of my inquiries, 
I heard of a man of 101 years of age, who declared that he had 
forgotten every thing he had ever known, except his God. I 
found the moral faculty, or a disposition. to do kind offices, to 
be exquisitely sensible in several old people, in whom there was 
scarcely a trace left of memory or understanding. 

8. Dreaming is universal among old people. It appears to be 
brought on by their imperfect sleep, of which I shall say more 
hereafter. 

9. I mentioned formerly the sign of a second childhood in 
the state of the appetite in old people. It appears further, i. In 
the marks which slight contusions or impressions leave upon their 
skins. 2. In their being soon fatigued by walking or exercise, 
and in being as soon refreshed by rest. 3. In their disposition, 
like children, to detail immediately every thing they see and 
hear. And, 4. In their aptitude to shed tears; hence they are 
unable to tell a story that is in any degree distressing without 
weeping. Dr. Moore takes notice of this peculiarity in Voltaire, 
after he had passed his Both year. He wept constantly at the 
recital of his own tragedies. This feature in old age did not escape 
I lomer. Old Menelaus wept ten years after he returned from the 
destruction of Troy, when he spoke of the death of the heroes 
who perished before that city. 

10. It w r ould be sufficiently humbling to human nature, if 
our bodies exhibited in old age the marks only of a second child- 
hood; but human weakness descends still lower. I met with an 
instance of a woman between 80 and 90, who exhibited the 
marks of a second infancy, by such a total decay of her mental 
faculties as to lose all consciousness in discharging her alvine and 
urinary excretions. In this state of the body, a disposition to sleep v 
succeeds the wakefulness of the first stages of old age. Dr. Haller 
mentions an instance of a very old man who slept twenty, out 
of every twenty-four hours during the few last years of his life. 

1 1 . The disposition in the system to renew certain parts in 
extreme old age, has been mentioned by several authors. Many 
instances are to be met with in the records of mediciue of the; 



352 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

sight * and hearing having been restored, and even of the teeth 
having been renewed in old people a few years before death. 
These phenomena have led me to suspect, that the antediluvian 
age was attained by the frequent renovation of different parts 
of the body, and that when they occur, they are an effort of the 
causes which support animal life, to produce antediluvian 
longevity, by acting upon the revived excitability of the system. 

12. The fear of death appears to be much less in old age, 
than in early, or middle life. I met with many old people who 
spoke of their dissolution with composure, and with some who 
expressed earnest desires to lie down in the grave. This indiffer- 
ence to life, and desire for death (whether they arise from satiety 
in worldly pursuits and pleasures, or from a desire of being re- 
lieved from pain) appear to be a wise law in the animal economy, 
and worthy of being classed with those laws which accommo- 
date the body and mind of man to all the natural evils, to which, 
in the common order of things, they are necessarily exposed. 

III. I come now briefly to enumerate the diseases of old age, 
and the remedies which are most proper to remove, or to miti- 
gate them. 

The diseases are chronic and acute. The CHRONIC are, 

i. Weakness of the knees and ankles, a lessened ability to 
walk, and tremors in the head and limbs. 

* There is a remarkable instance of the sight having been restored 
after it had been totally destroyed in an old man near Reading in Penn- 
sylvania. My brother, Jacob Rush, furnished me with the following ac- 
count of him in a letter from Reading, dated June 23, 1792. 

"An old man of 84 years of age, of the name of Adam Riffle, near 
this town, gradually lost his sight in the 68th year of his age, and con- 
tinued entirely blind for the space of twelve years. About four years ago 
his sight returned, without making use of any means for the purpose, 
and without any visible change in the appearance of the eyes, and he now 
sees as well as ever he did. I have seen the man, and have no doubt of the 
fact. He is at this time so hearty, as to be able to walk from his house to 
Reading, (about three miles) which he frequently does in order to attend 
church. I should observe, that during both the gradual loss, and recovery 
of his sight, he was no ways affected by sickness, but on the contrary en- 
joyed his usual health. I have this account from his daughter and son-in- 
law, who live within a few doors of me." 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 353 

2. Pains in the bones , known among nosological writers by 
the name of rheumatalgia. 

3. Involuntary flow of tears, and of mucus from the nose. 

4. Difficulty of breathing, and a short cough, with copious 
expectoration. A weak, or hoarse voice generally attends this 
cough. 

5. Constipation. 

6. An inability to retain the urine as long as in early or middle 
life. Few persons beyond 60 pass a whole night without being 
obliged to discharge their urine. * Perhaps the stimulus of this 
liquor in the bladder may be one cause of the universality of 
dreaming among old people. It is certainly a frequent cause of 
dreaming in persons in early and middle life: this I infer, from 
its occurring chiefly in the morning when the bladder is most 
distended with urine. There is likewise an inability in old people 
to discharge their urine as quickly as in early life. I think I have 
observed this to be among the first symptoms of the declension 
of the strength of the body by age. 

7. Wake fulness. This is probably produced in part by the 
action of the urine upon the bladder; but such is the excitability 
of the system in the first stages of old age, that there is no pain 
so light, no anxiety so trifling, and no sound so small, as not to 
produce wakcfulncss in old people. It is owing to their imperfect 
sleep, that they are sometimes as unconscious of the moment of 
their passing from a sleeping to a waking state, as young and 
middle aged people arc of the moment in which they pass from 
the waking to a sleeping state. Hence we so often hear them 
complain of passing sleepless nights. This is no doubt frequently 
the case, but I am satisfied, from the result of an inquiry made 
upon this subject, that they often sleep without knowing it, and 
that their complaints in the morning, of the want of sleep, arise 
from ignorance, without the least intention to deceive. 



* I met with an old man who informed me, that if from any accident 
he retained his urine after he felt an inclination to discharge it, he was 
affected by a numbness, accompanied by an uneasy sensation in the palms 
of his hands. 



354 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

8. Giddiness. 

9. Deafness. 

10. Imperfect vision. 

The acute diseases most common among old people, are 

1. Inflammation of the eyes. 

2. The pneumonia notba, or bastard pcripneumony. 

3. The colic. 

4. Palsy and apoplexy. 

5. The piles. 

6. A difficulty in making ivater. 

7. Intermittent fever. 

All the diseases of old people, both chronic and acute, origi- 
nate in predisposing debility. The remedies for the former, where 
a feeble morbid action takes place in the system, afe stimulants. 
The first of these is, 

1. HEAT. The ancient Romans prolonged life by retiring to 
Naples, as soon as they felt the infirmities of age coming upon 
them. The aged Portuguese imitate them, by approaching the 
mild sun of Brazil, in South America. But heat may be applied 
to the torpid bodies of old people artificially ist. By means of 
the r warm bath. Dr. Franklin owed much of the cheerfulness 
and general vigour of body and mind which characterized his 
old age, to his regular use of this remedy. It disposed him to 
sleep, and even produced a respite from the pain of the stone, 
with which he was afflicted during the last years of his life. 

2 . Heat may be applied to the bodies of old people by means 
of stove rooms. The late Dr. Dewit of Germantown, who lived 
to be near an 100 years of age, 'seldom breathed an air below 
72, after he became an old man. He lived constantly in a stove 
room. 

3. Warm clothing, more especially warm bedclothes, are 
proper to preserve or increase the heat of old people. From the 
neglect of the latter, they are often found dead in their beds in 
the morning, after a cold night, in all cold countries. The late 
Dr. Chovet, of this city, who lived to be 85 slept in a baize night 
gown, under eight blankets, and a coverlet, in a stove room, many 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 355 

years before he died. The head should be defended in old people 
by means of woollen, or fur caps, in the night, and by wigs and 
hats during the day, in cold weather. These artificial coverings 
will be the more necessary, where the head has been deprived of 
its natural covering. Great pains should be taken likewise to keep 
the feet dry and warm, by means of thick shoes. * To these modes 
of applying and confining heat to the bodies of old people, a 
young bed-fellow has been added; but I conceive the three arti- 
ficial modes which have been recommended, will be sufficient 
without the use of one, which cannot be successfully employed 
without a breach of delicacy or humanity. 

II. To keep up the action of the system, generous diet and 
drinks should be given to old people. For a reason mentioned 
formerly, they should be indulged in eating between the ordinary 
meals of families. Wine should be given to them in moderation. 
It has been emphatically called the milk of old age. 

III. YOUNG COMPANY should be preferred by old people to 
the company of persons of their own age. I think I have observed 
old people to enjoy better health and spirits, when they have 
passed the evening of .their live^ in the families of their children, 
where they have been surrounded by grand children, than when 
they lived by themselves. Even the solicitude they feel for the 
welfare of their descendants contributes to invigorate the cir- 
culation of the blood, and thereby to add fuel to the lamp of life. 

IV. GENTLE EXERCISE. This is of great consequence in pro- 

* I met with one man above 80, who defended his feet from moisture 
by covering his shoes in wet weather with melted wax; and another who, 
for the same purpose, covered his shoes every morning with a mixture 
composed of the following ingredients melted together Linseed oil a 
pound, mutton suet eight ounces, bees-wax six ounces, and rosin four 
ounces. The mixture should be moderately warmed, and then applied not 
only to the upper leather, but to the soles of the shoes. This composition, 
the old gentleman informed me, was extracted from a book entitled u The 
complete Fisherman," published in England in the reign of Queen Eliza- 
beth. He had used it for twenty years in cold and wet weather, with great 
benefit, and several of his friends who had tried it, spoke of its efficacy 
in keeping the feet dry, in high terms. 



356 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

moting the health of old people. It should be moderate, regular, 
and always in fair weather. 

V. CLEANLINESS. This should by no means be neglected. 
The dress of old people should not only be clean, but more ele- 
gant than in youth or middle life. It serves to divert the eye of 
spectators from observing the decay and deformity of the body, 
to view and admire that which is always agreeable to it. 

VI. To abate the pains of the chronic rheumatism, and the 
uneasiness of the old man's cough (as it is called) ; also to remove 
wakefulness, and to restrain during the night, a troublesome in- 
clination to make water, OPIUM may be given with great advan- 
tage. Chardin informs us, that this medicine is frequently used 
in the eastern countries to abate the pains and weaknesses of 
old age, by those people who are debarred the use, of wine by 
the religion of Mahomet. 

I have nothing to say upon the acute diseases of old people, 
but what is to be found in most of our books of medicine, except 
to recommend BLEEDING in those of them which are attended 
with an excess of blood in the body, and an inflammatory action 
in the pulse. The degrees of appetite which belong to old age, 
the quality of the food taken, and the sedentary life which is 
generally connected with it, all concur to produce that state of 
the system, which requires the above evacuation. I am sure that 
I have seen many of the chronic complaints of old people miti- 
gated by it, and I have more than once seen it used with obvious 
advantage in their inflammatory diseases. These affections I have 
observed to be more fatal among old people than is generally 
supposed. An inflammation of the lungs, which terminated in an 
abscess, deprived the world of Dr. Franklin. Dr. Chovet died of 
an inflammation in his liver. The blood drawn from him a few 
days before his death was sizy, and such was the heat of his body, 
produced by his fever, that he could not bear more covering, 
(notwithstanding his former habits of warm clothing) than a 
sheet in the month of January. 

Death from old age is the effect of a gradual palsy. It shews 
itself first in the eyes and ears in the decay of sight and hearing 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 357 

it appears next in the urinary bladder, in the limbs and trunk 
of the body, then in the sphincters of the bladder, and rectum, 
and finally in the nerves and brain, destroying in the last, the 
exercise of all the faculties of the mind. 

Few persons appear to die of old age. Some one of the diseases 
which have been mentioned, generally cuts the last thread of life. 



SERMON ON EXERCISE 

How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou 
arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep a little slumber a 
little folding of the hands to sleep. So shall thy poverty 
come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man. 

PROVERBS vi. 9, 10, n. 



MAN WAS formed to be active. The vigour of his mind, and the 
health of his body can be fully preserved by no other means, 
than by labour of some sort. Hence, when we read the sentence 
which was pronounced upon man after the fall, "That in the 
sweat of his brow he should eat bread all the days of his life." 
We cannot help admiring the goodness of the Supreme Being, 
in connecting his punishment with what had now become the 
necessary means of preserving his health. Had God abandoned 
him to idleness, he would have entailed tenfold misery upon him. 
The solid parts of his body, particularly the nerves, would have 
lose their tone the muscles would have lost their feeling and 
moving powers and the fluids in consequence of this, would 
have lost their original or native qualities, and have stagnated 
in every part of his body. But, instead of inflicting this compli- 
cated punishment upon him, he bids him be ACTIVE, and implants 
a principle within him which impels him to it. Civil society and 
agriculture began together. The latter has always been looked 
upon among the first employments of mankind. It calls forth 
every individual of the human race into action. It employs the 
body in a manner the most conducive to its health. It preserves 
and increases the species most; and lastly, it is most friendly to 
the practice of virtue. For these reasons, therefore, it is natural 

358 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 359 

to conclude that it is most agreeable to the Supreme Being that 
man should be supported by it. The earth is a skilful as well as a 
kind mother to her children. Instead of pouring her treasures in 
lapf uls upon them at once, and consigning them to idleness ever 
afterwards, she bestows her gifts with a sparing hand, and ceases 
to yield them any thing, as soon as they cease to cultivate her. 
Thus by entailing constant labour, she meant to entail constant 
health upon them. 

But these employments were too innocent for the restless 
spirit of man. He soon deserted his fields and his flocks and 
sought for some more speedy methods of acquiring fortune 
independence and a superiority over his fellow creatures. These 
have been obtained by commerce war rapine and lastly, to 
the reproach of the American colonies, and of humanity, be it 
spoken, by the perpetration of a crime, compared with which, 
every other breach of the laws of nature or nations, deserves the 
name of holiness, I mean, by slavery. But in exchange for these, 
he hath given up that greatest of all blessings, health. He hath had 
recourse to medicine as a succedaneum for labour: but this hath 
proved ineffectual; for the fossil vegetable and those parts of 
the animal kingdom which are employed in medicine, have not 
yet learned, like man, to rise in rebellion against the will of their 
Creator. Solomon seems to have been aware of this in the words 
of our text, and hence we hear him calling upon him to awake 
from his unhealthy "slumber" to rise from his enervating bed 
to unfold his "arms," and employ them in some useful labour, 
lest sickness, with its companion "poverty," should come upon 
him like "travail upon a woman with child," or like an "armed 
man," neither of which can be avoided or resisted. But Solomon, 
and all the preachers from his time to the present day, who have 
addressed him upon this subject, have used their eloquence in 
vain. Since therefore we cannot bring man back again to his 
implements of husbandry, we must attempt to find out some kinds 
of exercise as substitutes for them. The most healthy and long- 
lived people are found among the labouring part of mankind 
Would the rich then enjoy health and long life, they must do 



360 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

that of choice which these people do of necessity. They must 
by exercise, subject themselves to a kind of voluntary labour. 

As this discourse is addressed chiefly to the rich and the 
luxurious, who are the most given to idleness, I shall confine 
myself to Exercise only; and, in order to handle the subject in 
the most extensive manner, I shall consider 
I. The different modes of exercise. 

II. The proper time for using it; and then I shall conclude 
with an Application. 

I. All Exercise may be divided into Active and Passive. 

Active exercise includes walking running dancing fenc- 
ing swimming, and the like. 

Passive exercise includes sailing riding in a carriage, and on 
horseback. The last of these is of a mixed nature; and is in some 
measure active as well as passive. We shall treat of each of them 
in order. 

OF ACTIVE EXERCISE 

Walking is the most gentle species of it we are acquainted 
with. It promotes perspiration, and if not continued too long, 
invigorates and strengthens the system. As the most simple and 
wholesome drink, namely water, is within every body's reach, so 
this species of simple and wholesome exercise is in every body's 
power, who has the use of his limbs. It is to be lamented, that 
carriages are substituted too often in the room of it. In Peking 
in China, we are told, thkt none but the Emperor, and a few of 
the first officers of state, are suffered to use chariots. Although 
the intention of this law was to suppress the number of horses, 
in order to make room for the increase and support of the human 
species, in the number of which the riches of all countries con- 
sist, yet we find it attended with good effects otherwise; for the 
rich and the great, by being obliged to walk in common with the 
poor people, enjoy with them the common blessing of health, 
more than people of the same rank in other countries. To such 
as can bear it, I would recommend walking frequently up a hill. 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 361 

The inhabitants of mountainous countries are generally healthy 
and long lived. This is commonly attributed to the purity of the 
air in such places. Although this has a chief share in it, yet I 
cannot help thinking, that the frequent and necessary exercise 
of climbing mountains, which these people are obliged to un- 
dergo, adds much to their health and lives. Every body knows 
how much walking up a hill tends to create an appetite. This 
depends upon its increasing the insensible perspiration a secre- 
tion with which the appetite, and the state of the stomach in 
general, are much connected. 

Running is too violent to be used often, or continued for any 
length of time. The running footmen in all countries are short- 
lived Few of them escape consumptions before they arrive at 
their thirty-fifth year. 

Dancing is a most salutary exercise. Future ages will be sur- 
prised to hear, that rational creatures should, at any time, have 
looked upon it as a criminal amusement. To reason against it, 
from its abuse, concludes equally strong against the lawfulness of 
every thing we hold sacred and valuable in life. It was a part 
of the Jewish worship. By its mechanical effects on the body, it 
inspires the mind with cheerfulness, and this, when well founded, 
and properly restrained, is another name for religion. It is com- 
mon among the Indians, and the savage nations of all countries, 
upon public and festive occasions. They have their war their 
love and their religious dances. The music, which always ac- 
companies this exercise, hath a pleasing and salutary effect upon 
the body as well as the mind. It is addressed through the avenue 
of the ears to the brain, the common centre of life and motion, 
from whence its oscillations are communicated to every part of 
the system, imparting to each, that equable and uniform vigour 
and action, upon which the healthy state of all the functions 
depends. It would lead us to a long digression, or I might here 
mention many remarkable cures which have been performed, 
particularly of those disorders, .which are much connected with 
the nervous system, by the magic power of music. Dancing 
should not be used more than once or twice a week. It should 



362 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

never be continued 'till weariness comes on, nor should we 
expose ourselves to the cold air too soon after it. 

Fencing calls forth most of the muscles into exercise, par- 
ticularly those which move the limbs. The brain is likewise 
roused by it, through the avenue of the eyes, and its action, 
as in the case of music, is propagated to the whole system. It 
has long been a subject of complaint, that the human species has 
been degenerating for these several centuries. When we see the 
coats of mail of our ancestors, who fought under the Edwards 
and Henries of former ages, we wonder how they moved, much 
more how they achieved such great exploits, beneath the weight 
of such massy coverings. We grant that rum tobacco tea 
and some other luxuries of modern invention, have had a large 
share in weakening the stamina of our constitutions, and thus 
producing a more feeble race of men; yet we must attribute much 
of our great inferiority in strength, size and agility to our fore- 
fathers, to the disuse which the invention of gun-powder and 
fire arms hath introduced of those athletic exercises, which were 
so much practised in former ages, as a part of military discipline. 

Too much cannot be said in praise of swimming, or as the 
poet of Avon expresses it "buffeting the waves with lusty 
sinews." Besides exercising the limbs, it serves to wash away the 
dust, which is apt to mix itself with the sweat of our bodies in 
warm weather. Washing frequently in water, we find, was en- 
joined upon the Jews and Mahometans, as a part of their religious 
ceremonies. The Hollanders are cleanly in their houses and 
streets, without remembering, or perhaps knowing, that cleanli- 
ness was absolutely necessary at first, to guard against the effects 
of those inundations of mire, to which their country is always 
exposed so a Jew and a Mussulman contend for, and practise 
their ablutions, without remembering that they were instituted 
only to guard them against those cutaneous diseases, to which the 
constant accumulation of scales upon their skins in a warm cli- 
mate, naturally exposed them. For the same reason, I would 
strongly recommend the practice of bathing, and swimming, 
frequently in the summer season. But remember, you should 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 363 

not stay too long in the water at one time, lest you lessen instead 
of increasing the vigour of the constitution. 

To all these species of exercise which we have mentioned, 
I would add, skeating, jumping, also, the active plays of tennis, 
bowles, quoits, golf,* and the like. The manner in which each 
of these operate, may be understood from what we said under 
the former particulars. 

Active exercise includes, in the last place, talking reading 
with an audible voice singing and laughing. They all promote 
the circulation of the blood thro' the lungs, and tend to 
strengthen those important organs, when used in moderation. 
The last has the advantage over them all, inasmuch as the mind 
co-operates with it. May unfading laurels bloom to the latest 
ages upon the grave of him * * who said, "That every time a man 
laughs, he adds something to his life." 

I would remark here, that all these species of exercise which 
we have described, should be varied according to age sex 
temperament climate and season. Young people stand in less 
need of exercise than old. Women less than men. The natural 
vigour of their constitutions is such, that they suffer least from 
the want of it. This will explain the meaning, and show the 
propriety of an opinion of a modern Philosopher f that "Women 
only should follow those mechanical arts which require a seden- 
tary life." But again, a man who is phlegmatic, requires more 
frequent and violent exercise than he who is of a bilious con- 
stitution: And lastly, people in warm climates and seasons, re- 
quire less than those who live in cold. As Providence, by supply- 

* Golf is an exercise which is much used by the Gentlemen in Scot- 
land. A large common in which there are several little holes is chosen 
for the purpose. It is played with little leather balls stuffed with feathers; 
and sticks made somewhat in the form of a bandy-wicker. He who puts 
a ball into a given number of holes, with the fewest strokes, gets the 
game. The late Dr. M'Kenzie, Author of the Essay on Health and Long 
Life, used to say, that a man would live ten years the longer for using 
this exercise once or twice a week. 
** Dr. Sterne. 

t Rousseau. 



364 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

ing the inhabitants of warm climates with so many of the spon- 
taneous fruits of the earth, seems to have intended they should 
labour less than the inhabitants of cold climates, so we may infer 
from this, that less exercise, which is only a substitute for labour, 
is necessary for them. The heat of such climates is sufficient of 
itself to keep up a regular and due perspiration. We said in a 
former discourse, that the longest lived people were to be found 
in warm climates, and we gave one conjecture into the cause of 
it. It may not be improper here to add another. The coldness 
of northern climates, from the vigour it gives to the constitution, 
prompts to all kinds of exercise, which are not always restrained 
within proper bounds. These, when used to excess, wear out the 
body. Thus, blowing a fire, may cause it to burn the brighter, 
but it consumes it the sooner. The inhabitants of warm climates 
being less prompted to these things, their bodies continue longer 
unimpaired. I confine this observation, as in the former instance, 
to the improved parts of Asia and Africa only. The inhabitants 
of the West-Indian islands are so mixed, and partake so much 
of the European manners, that we cannot as yet include them 
in any general remarks which are made upon this subject. 

I come to speak of those exercises which are of a Passive 
Nature. These are proper chiefly for valetudinarians: But, as I 
intend these sermons should be of use to them as well as the 
healthy, I shall make a few remarks upon each of them. 

The life of a Sailor is environed with so many dangers, that 
Heaven has in compensation for them connected with it an 
exemption from many diseases. In vain do the angry elements 
assault him. His body, like some huge promontory, is proof 
against them all. Notwithstanding the dangers from shipwreck 
fire falling overboard and famine, to which sailors are ex- 
posed, I believe, that if we were to count an hundred sailors, and 
the same number of people on land, in a place that was ordinarily 
healthy, we should find more of the former alive at the end of 
ten years than the latter. The exercise of Sailing is constant. 
Every muscle is occasionally brought into exercise from the 
efforts we make to keep ourselves from falling. These efforts 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 365 

continue to be exerted by the oldest sailors, although the con- 
sciousness of the mind in these, as well as in many other actions 
we perform, is not observed from the influence of habit. By 
means of this regular and gentle exercise, the blood is moved in 
those small capillaries, where it is most apt to stagnate, and per- 
spiration is increased, which is carried off as fast as it is discharged 
from the body, by the constant change of atmosphere in a ship 
under sail. I say nothing here of the benefit of the sea air, it 
being entirely negative. Its virtue both at sea and on the sea-shore, 
consists in nothing but its being freed from those noxious animal 
and vegetable effluvia, which abound in the air, which comes 
across land. From what has been said, you will no longer be sur- 
prised at the uncommon appetite which some people feel at sea. 
It is owing to the great and constant discharge of the aliment 
(after it has undergone its usual changes) by means of perspira- 
tion. I would recommend this species of exercise to consumptive 
people, especially to sucli as labour under a spitting of blood. 
Dr. Lind tells us,* "That out of 5741 sailors who were admitted 
into the naval hospital at Haslar, near Portsmouth, in two years, 
only 360 of them had consumptions, and in one fourth of these, 
(he says,) it was brought on by bruises or falls." In the same 
number of hospital patients, in this or any other country, I am 
persuaded six times that number would have been consumptive 
so much does the gentle exercise of sailing fortify the lungs 
against all accidents, and determine the quantity and force of the 
fluids towards the surface of the body. 

Riding in a chariot has but few advantages, inasmuch as we 
are excluded from the benefit of fresh air; an article, upon which 
the success of all kinds of exercise in a great measure depends. 
It should be used only by such persons as are unable to walk 
or to ride on horseback. We cannot help lamenting here, that 
those people use this mode of exercise the most, who stand in thfc 
greatest need of a more violent species of it. 

Riding on horseback is the most manly and useful species of 

* Essay on the means of preserving the health of seamen. 



366 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

exercise for gentlemen. Bishop Burnet expresses his surprise at 
the lawyers of his own time, being so much more long-lived 
(cacteris paribus) than other people, considering how much those 
of them who become eminent in their profession, are obliged to 
devote themselves to constant and intense study. He attributes it 
entirely to their riding the circuits so frequently, to attend the 
different courts in every part of the kingdom. This no doubt has 
a chief share in it: But we shall hereafter mention another cause 
which concurs with this, to protract their lives. It may be varied 
according to our strength, or the nature of our disorder, by 
walking pacing trotting or cantering our horse. All those 
diseases which are attended with a weakness of the nerves, such 
as the hysteric and hypochondriac disorders, which show them- 
selves in a weakness of the stomach and bowels indigestion 
low spirits, &c. require this exercise. It should be use\l with cau- 
tion in the consumption, as it is generally too violent, except in 
the early stage of that disorder. In riding, to preserve health, 
eight or ten miles a day are sufficient to answer all the purposes 
we would wish for. But in riding, to restore health, these little 
excursions will avail nothing. The mind as well as the body must 
be roused from its languor. In taking an airing, as it is called, 
we ride over the same ground for the most part every day. We 
see no new objects to divert us, and the very consideration of our 
riding for health sinks our spirits so much, that we receive more 
harm than good from it. Upon this account I would recommend 
long journeys to such people, in order, by the variety or novelty 
of the journey to awaken and divert the mind. Many people have 
by these means been surprised into health. Persons who labour 
under hysteric or .epileptic' disorders, should be sent to cold; 
those who labour under hypochondriac or consumptive com- 
plaints should visit warm climates. 

Before I finish this head of our discourse, I shall add a few 
words concerning the exercise of the faculties of the soul. The 
mind and body have a reciprocal action upon each other. Are 
our passions inflamed with desire or aversion? Or does our reason 
trace out relations in those things which are the objects of our 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 367 

understanding? The body we find is brought into sympathy. 
The pulse and the circulation of the blood are immediately quick- 
ened. Perspiration and the other secretions are promoted, and 
the body is sensibly invigorated afterwards. The body partakes 
therefore of the torpor which the mind contracts by its neg- 
lecting to exercise its faculties. He must be but little acquainted 
with biography, who has not remarked, that such as have dis- 
tinguished themselves in the literary world, have generally been 
long-lived. Addison, Swift, Locke, Newton, Franklin, with many 
others whom we might mention, all found a retreat in the eve- 
ning of their lives under the shade of laurels which they had 
planted in their youth. Perhaps in most cases, they might promise 
themselves an exemption from diseases, and a death from mere 
old age, could they be persuaded to relinquish their midnight 
lamp before the oil which feeds it was consumed. Great care 
should be taken, however, to avoid too great application of the 
mind to study. The most powerful medicines in nature are the 
most certain poisons. Many promising geniuses have sacrificed 
themselves, before they arrived at the altar in the Temple of 
Fame. Such as are in danger of suffering from this cause, will do 
well in consulting the ingenious and humane Dr. Tissot's excel- 
lent treatise upon the diseases of literary people. The passions 
as well as our reason, should always be exercised as much as 
possible. We shall walk run dance swim fence sail and 
ride to little purpose, unless we make choice of an agreeable 
friend to accompany us. Solitude is the bane of man; insomuch, 
that it is difficult to tell which suffers most, the soul in its qualities, 
or the body in its temperament, from being alone. Too great 
a concourse of people breeds diseases. Too much company is 
destructive to cheerfulness. For the sake of both mind and body, 
therefore, we should move in a little circle, and let heaven cir- 
cumscribe it for us. Let our wives and children be always around 
us, or if we are not blessed with these, let a few cheerful friends 
be our constant companions. It is remarked, that more single 
people die among those who are come to manhood than married, 
and all physicians agree, that single men and women, compose 



368 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

by far the greatest number of their chronic patients among 
adults. Some men may talk against the cares of a family. They 
are unavoidable, it is true, but they are necessary. Stagnating 
waters are never sweet. Thus, these little cares, by keeping the 
tenderer passions always agitated, prevent that uniformity in 
life, which is so foreign and disagreeable both to the body and 
mind. After all, I believe, I shall have the suffrages of most of 
my hearers, when I add, that they are at least balanced by the 
sweets of domestic friendship. 

We come now to the next head of our discourse, namely, 
II. To enquire into the proper Time for Exercise Sanctorius 
informs us,* that "exercise, from the seventh to the eleventh 
hour after earing, wastes more insensibly in one hour, than in 
three at any other time." If this be true, then (supposing you 
sup at eight o'clock in the evening) that exercise which is used 
from five 'till seven o'clock in the morning, will promote the 
greatest discharge in a given time, by insensible perspiration. Such 
as make dinner their principal meal, are excluded from the 
benefit of this aphorism; as the interval, between the seventh and 
the eleventh hour, with them (supposing they dine at two o'clock 
in the afternoon) is from nine in the evening 'till one o'clock 
in the morning a time, in which darkness, and the unwholesome 
night air, forbid walking riding and almost every other species 
of manly exercise we have described. 

I know it will be objected here, that we often see labourers 
return, after a full meal, to their work, without feeling any in- 
convenience from it. This is like the argument of those who 
recommend raw flesh to the human species, because the strongest 
and fiercest animals in nature eat it. It is because they are so 
fierce and so strong, that they are able to digest raw flesh. In 
like manner it is, because these men are naturally so strong, that 
labour immediately after eating does not hurt them.f But let 
me ask, whether you have not observed such people leave their 
tables with reluctance How slowly do they return, and how 

* Sect. V. Aphorism vii. 

t Of dura messorum ilia. Hor. Epod. III. 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 369 

many excuses do they form to loiter away a little time, before 
they renew their work. 

But further there is another reason why I would recom- 
mend this practice of eating the chief meal in the evening, which 
is indeed a little foreign to our present subject. In a country 
like this, where the constant labour of every individual is so 
very necessary, the general use of this custom would add sev- 
eral hours to every day, and thus have the most beneficial effects 
upon the agriculture commerce and manufactures of the 
country, exclusive of its influence upon the health of the in- 
habitants. 

After what has been said, I need hardly add, that exercise 
should never be used with a full stomach. Persons who exercise 
either to preserve, or restore health immediately after eating a 
hearty meal, resemble the man "who fled from a lion, and a bear 
met him, and who went into the house, and leaned his hand upon 
the wall, and a serpent bit him." 

I come now to the application of this discourse. 

I have endeavoured in every part of it, to lay before you 
the most powerful arguments, to excite you to exercise, and have 
addressed them chiefly to that main spring of human actions 
Self Preservation. I have taught you the true art of alchemy, 
and furnished you with the genuine Philosopher's stone, but with 
this difference from that which has been sought for, by the 
deluded pretenders to philosophy in all ages, that instead of con- 
verting, like Midas, every thing you touch into gold every 
thing which touches you shall not convert you into gold but 
impart health to you compared with which, even the gold of 
Ophir loses its weight. In a word I have showed you an harbour 
where I have anchored safely for many years; for, from my 
youth upwards, I have followed the mode of living I have rec- 
ommended to you, as far as my connections or intercourse with 
the world would admit; and although I received from nature 
a weakly constitution, yet I speak it with a grateful heart! 
few men enjoy better health none better spirits than myself; 
and was I now about to leave the world, surrounded with a 



37 o SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

family of children, I would charge them, among the most im- 
portant lessons I should give them, to bind these things as 
"a sign upon their hands, or as frontlets between their eyes" to 
think of them "when they sat in their houses, and when they 
walked by the way when they lay down, and when they rose 
up that their days might be multiplied; and that the days of 
their children, might be as the days of Heaven upon the earth." 

I shall conclude this discourse with a story, which I hope, 
will not be looked upon as foreign to what has been delivered 
upon this subject. 

In the island of Ceylon, in the Indian Ocean, a number of 
invalids were assembled together, who were afflicted with most 
of the chronic diseases, to which the human body is subject. In 
the midst of them sat several venerable figures, who amused 
them with encomiums upon some medicines, \Vhich they assured 
them would afford infallible relief in all cases. One boasted of 
an elixir another of a powder, brought from America a third, 
of a medicine, invented and prepared in Germany all of which 
they said were certain antidotes to the gout a fourth, cried up 
a nostrum for the vapours a fifth, drops for the gravel a sixth, 
a balsam, prepared from honey, as a sovereign remedy for a con- 
sumption a seventh, a pill for cutaneous eruptions while an 
eighth cried down the whole, and extolled a mineral water, which 
lay a few miles from the place where they were assembled. The 
credulous multitude partook eagerly of these medicines, but 
without any relief of their respective complaints. Several of those 
who made use of the German preparation, were hurried sud- 
denly out of the world. Some said their medicines were adul- 
terated others that the Doctors had mistaken their disorders 
while most of them agreed that they were much worse than ever. 
While they were all, with one accord, giving vent in this man- 
ner, to the transports of disappointment and vexation, a clap of 
thunder was heard over their heads. Upon looking up, a light was 
seen in the sky. In the midst of this appeared the figure of 
something more than human she was tall and comely her skin 
was fair as the driven snow a rosy hue tinged her cheeks 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 371 

her hair hung loose upon her shoulders her flowing robes dis- 
closed a shape which would have cast a shade upon the statue of 
Venus of Medicis. In her right hand she held a bough of an 
evergreen in her left hand she had a scroll of parchment she 
descended slowly, and stood erect upon the earth she fixed 
her eyes, which sparkled with life, upon the deluded and afflicted 
company there was a mixture of pity and indignation in her 
countenance she stretched forth her right arm, and with a voice 
which was sweeter than melody itself, she addressed them in 
the following language: "Ye children of men, listen for a while 
to the voice of instruction. Ye seek health where it is not to be 
found. The boasted specifics you have been using, have no 
virtues. Even the persons who gave them, labour under many 
of the disorders they attempt to cure. My name is Hygiaea. I 
preside over the health of mankind. Descard all your medicines, 
and seek relief from Temperance and Exercise alone. Every 
thing you see is active around you. All the brute animals in 
nature are active in their instinctive pursuits. Inanimate nature 
is active too air fire and water are always in motion. Unless 
this were the case, they would soon be unfit for the purposes 
they were designed, to serve in the economy of nature. Shun 
sloth. This unhinges all the springs of life fly from your dis- 
eases they will not they cannot pursue you." Here she ended 
she dropped the parchment upon the earth a cloud received 
her, and she immediately ascended, and disappeared from their 
sight a silence ensued more expressive of approbation, than 
the loudest peals of applause. One of them approached with 
reverence to the spot where she stood took up the scroll, and 
read the contents of it to his companions. It contained directions 
to each of them, what they should do to restore their health. 
They all prepared themselves to obey the advice of the heavenly 
vision. The gouty man broke his vial of elixir, threw his powders 
into the fire, and walked four or five miles every day before 
breakfast. The man afflicted with the gravel threw aside his drops, 
and began to work in his garden, or to play two or three hours 
every day at bowles. The hypochondriac and hysteric patients 



372 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

discharged their boxes of assafcetida, and took a journey on horse- 
back to distant and opposite ends of the island. The melancholic 
threw aside his gloomy systems of philosophy, and sent for a 
dancing master. The studious man shut up his folios, and sought 
amusement from the sports of children. The leper threw away 
his mercurial pills, and swam every day in a neighbouring river. 
The consumptive man threw his balsam out of his window, and 
took a voyage to a distant country. After some months, they all 
returned to the place they were wont to assemble in. Joy ap- 
peared in each of their countenances. One had renewed his youth 
another had recovered the use of his limbs a third, who had 
been half bent for many years, now walked upright a fourth 
began to sing some jovial song, without being asked a fifth 
could talk for hours together, without being interrupted with a 
cough in a word, they all enjoyed now a complete recovery of 
their health. They joined in offering sacrifices to Hygiaea. Tem- 
ples were erected to her memory; and she continues, to this day, 
to be worshipped by all the inhabitants of that island. 



ON MANNERS 
Excerpts from a Diary Traveling Through France 



NATIONAL PREJUDICES arc of such a nature that it is seldom they 
are entirely overcome. We are very apt to imagine everything 
we see in our own country to be the standard of what is right 
in taste, politeness, customs, languages et cetera, and therefore 
we condemn, everything which differs from us. This is a fruitful 
source of error in the opinions we form of different nations. 
Thus much I thought necessary to introduce an account of a 
journey made to a country and among people whose manners are 
so very opposite to our own that it is no wonder we are led (con- 
sidering the great partiality we have for ourselves) to condemn 
them above most nations in the world. We shall perhaps find 
upon enquiry that they have many excellent things among them, 
and that they deserve to be as much the envy as the jest of each 
neighboring state. 

I set off from London February 16, 1769, and reached Dover 
the same evening. I crossed the Channel in the night and arrived 
next morn at Calais. From hence I travelled in company with 
two young gentlemen by land to Paris. There was little variety 
in this journey except quarrelling with tavern keepers about their 
bills, crowds of beggars in every village (all of which is extremely 
common in France) can be called variety. The country of France 
is extremely beautiful and even at this early season of the year, 
in many places, it was covered with verdure. Few counties in 
England exceed Picardy (the only province over which I trav- 
elled), yet I am informed it is one of the poorest in France. It 

373 



374 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

wants nothing but a greater plenty of water to afford the richest 
prospect in nature. The finest landscapes in the world without 
this capital beauty of nature become insipid and in a short time 
satiate the eyes. There and there indeed I saw fields covered 
with water by the hands of art, in order to heighten the beauty 
of several country scenes. But this was but a poor substitute for 
Rivers or Brooks, since the thirst cannot be duly entertained with 
it unless it appears to be always in motion. 

Paris is generally supposed to be l /z less than London both in 
size and in the number of its inhabitants. I cannot for my part 
agree in this calculation, considering the more oval figure of 
Paris, it appears to cover as much ground as London, which is 
rather of an elliptical form and considering the greater height 
and compactness of their houses, together with the narrowness 
of their streets, I am apt to think it contains as many inhabitants 
as London (about 800,000) especially when you excluded from 
the latter the vast number of seamen that daily crowd the streets, 
who belong to other countries, and who are by no means to be 
ranked among the inhabitants of London. I shall begin my 
account of this city by making a few remarks upon the state 
of the fine arts among them and first I shall take notice of their 
architecture. 

Architecture is carried to much greater perfection here than 
in England. Their palaces are more in number, and more mag- 
nificent in their appearance than any building perhaps in the 
whole world. Their churches impress the mind, with a sublime 
kind of solemnity, which is easier to be conceived than de- 
scribed. The richness of their altars, the grandeur of their images, 
and the beauty of their paintings makes a stranger imagine he is 
walking into the Temple of Solomon itself. The outside of 
several of their most celebrated palaces are notwithstanding very 
faulty, in being rather too uniform, insomuch that no one part 
of them strikes the mind more than another. In painting as well 
as poetry, the attention should always be directed to some one 
object, to which every other part of the work should be sub- 
servient, Virgil's Aenead would cease to please us, unless our 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 375 

eyes were kept constantly fixed upon the illustrious hero of the 
poem, nor would Milton's Paradise Lost be in the least enter- 
taining if our attention was not perpetually kept Up to the fate 
of Adam. 

The same rule applies to architecture, some one pillar or piece 
of statuary should always strike the mind at first sight and every 
other part of the building should be inferior to it both in beauty 
and size. 

The paintings in and about Paris, afford the highest enter- 
tainment to a man of taste. Here is everything that is instructing 
in portraiture, history, poetry, and religion represented to the 
very life. I could dwell with pleasure upon eight or ten of them, 
which detained me for hours in viewing them. In a church 
dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is a representation of a woman 
dying with the plague, raised up in her bed to receive the sac- 
rament from the hands of a priest; you imagine you see the 
very sweat of death upon her face, and you cannot help sym- 
pathizing in some measure with her husband and children, who 
are weeping around her bed. 

In the palace of the Duke of Orleans is to be seen painted 
in the most masterly manner, everything remarkable in the 
History of Aeneas, from the destruction of Troy to his arrival 
in Italy. Nothing struck me more than the moving story of 
his leaving Dido at Carthage. You behold grief mixed with 
resentment in the countenance of the queen, while Aeneas ex- 
presses in every feature of his face all the passionate fondness 
of a lover, mingled at the same time with all that manly heroism 
which the prospect of establishing a kingdom and being the 
author of an illustrious race of heroes, in a distant country 
naturally fired his soul. Besides this I was much struck with 
several admirable pieces of Scriptural history. 

In the Palace of Luxembourg is a gallery representing most 
of the memorable events in the history of Henry the Fourth and 
Louis the Thirteenth. The birth of the latter is expressed to 
the very life. The little prince is brought and presented to his 
royal mother, Marie de Medici, who receives him with an air 



376 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

of joy mingled with a degree of pain which nothing but the 
pencil of a Rubens would have captured, for this whole gallery 
was filled by that illustrious painter. 

Statuary is another fine art, which is cultivated with great 
success in Paris. This art is superior to the former in resisting 
better the strokes of time. 'Tis owing to this that Rome even 
to this day allures strangers from all parts of the world, there 
as the poet expressed it: 

"Heroes in animated marble shoen, 
And Legislators seem to think in stone." 

POPE 

There Trajan, Pompey and most of the illustrious genii of 
Rome appear in all their wonted glory, and seem to tell the 
traveller in every feature of their faces, the history of their lives 
and illustrious actions. I have received great pleasure from view- 
ing the statues of some of the most celebrated men in France, 
which are to be seen in most of their public buildings. One piece 
of sculpture particularly struck me very much. It was that of 
Cardinal Richelieu, which stands by a large church founded 
by himself, called the Church de Sorbonne. He is represented 
in a dying posture, with his right hand upon his breast, and in 
his left he holds all his works which he is offering to the Savior. 
Religion in the form of a beautiful maid supports his head, while 
Science in the form of another sits with her robes ruffled around 
her face and appears to be inconsolable for the loss she was 
about to sustain by his death. 

But even this useful art has been prostitute in France. In 
many places you see some of the most absurd fictions of Ovid's 
Metamorphoses, such as women transformed into fishes and 
other animals, and then into trees represented in as striking a 
manner as if they were facts of yesterday and believed by all 
the world. Besides this many of them want that chastity which 
we would wish to find in all civilized, but more especially in all 
Christian countries. Who would expect to find the Rape of 
Orythia, by Borreau, in one of the most public walks of the city? 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 377 

Paris, like London, abounds with a number of charitable 
institutions for the relief of the sick and poor; the most remark- 
able of these is what is called the Hotel Dieu or the Hospital 
of God, into which all distressed persons of all religions and from 
all countries are received and provided for. At some seasons it 
contains 8,000 souls. The Foundling Hospital is another ad- 
mirable institution founded upon the same plan as that in London. 
The day before I saw it, 1 8 or 20 little children were received 
into it; it is supposed one eighth of the children born in Paris 
are brought up here. One reason why it is so much crowded 
is, that if a woman brings forth a dead child without first de- 
claring her pregnancy, she is burnt alive; this puts an entire stop 
to child murder, and every poor child of course that is born in 
Paris is naturally sent to this hospital; the motto over the door 
is very a propos to the condition of the children. It is "Mon 
pere, et ma mere m'ont abandonne, mais le Signeur a pris soin 
de moi." (My father and my mother have abandoned me, but 
the Lord hath taken care of me.) 

In a country like France, where the belles lettres are culti- 
vated with so much success, we might naturally expect to find 
oratory much studied by everybody, that is called upon to appear 
in a public character. Rhetoricians divide oratory into four kinds 
ist that of the pulpit; znd that of the bar; 3rd that of the popu- 
lar assemblies and 4th that of the stage. The first of these deserves 
the particular notice of strangers. The preachers in general here 
are much more animated than in any other country. Their 
sermons abound with the boldest strokes of rhetoric, as fre- 
quent apostrophes or addresses to the Deity, or to particular 
virtues, and in some cases the very walls of the churches in which 
they are preaching. The subjects of all the sermons I heard were 
chiefly moral. One reason why the French preachers excell the 
English is that they almost always commit their sermons to 
memory and never carry a written word into the pulpit with 
them. 

It is impossible for a man to speak well or use the least grace- 
ful action, who is closely confined to his notes. As to the elo- 



378 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

quence of the bar, I can say nothing from my own observation, 
having never been able to gain admittance into any of their courts 
of justice. All criminal trials are heard in private, and it is in 
these chiefly that an orator has an opportunity of showing his 
abilities. As to the eloquence of their popular assemblies, I believe 
there is scarcely any remains of it to be found amongst them. 
The parliaments of France are mere courts of justice, and have 
no power of any kind as a legislative body. It is in free countries 
only that this species of eloquence appears with all its advantages. 
Demosthenes and Cicero lived in ages that have ever since been 
celebrated as the most favorable to the liberties of mankind. If 
a man dares in the least to oppose the King's Arrettes or procla- 
mations, he is immediately secluded from his seat in Parliament, 
and banished from Paris during the King's pleasure. May we 
never live to see this the case in Great Britain. There was a time 
when the Parliaments of France were as free and independent 
as our own, but what will not bribery and corruption accom- 
plish. 

The last species of eloquence, namely that of the stage, has 
been much celebrated throughout all Europe but in my opinion it 
is much inferior to that of the English stage in everything. Their 
tragedies are all written in rhyme. How very ridiculous must it 
appear, to hear a husband lamenting the death of a wife in all 
the harmony of verse? Besides this, so fond are the French of 
humor in all their dramatic performances that I once saw a 
woman after having taken leave of her children, with an inten- 
tion to destroy herself after weeping in so pathetic a manner 
as to oblige the whole audience to weep with her suddenly dis- 
sipate all their tears and raise a universal laughter by a piece of 
low wit which had no connection with the subject of the tragedy. 
Their comedies, in general, are much better than the English. 
All kinds of buffoonery are excluded from them. They abound 
in more sentiments and are for the most part designed only to 
expose living vices and not living characters. I never read a French 
comedy in my life that had even a double entendre in it, very 
different is the character of most of our English comedies. A 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 379 

foreigner once said of them; that the "Conscious Lovers" was 
the only English comedy he had ever seen, that was not much 
fitter to be acted in a brothel than upon an English stage. 

The ladies in Paris in general are very beautiful. Their easi- 
ness of behavior, their sprightliness and apparent good humor, 
give additional charm to their persons. Much however of their 
beauty is borrowed from art; I mean painting. This fashion pre- 
vails so much in Paris, that the ladies take no pains to conceal it. 
It is very common to see them take out a little box of paint which 
they always carry in their pockets, together with a small looking- 
glass, and a fine pencil, and daub their cheeks over in their 
coaches, when they are going out to an Assembly or any public 
entertainment. This practice of painting however is far from 
being general as some have reported, being confined chiefly to 
ladies of quality. 

Much has been said of the want of delicacy in the French 
ladies. The freedom of their behavior, their using certain expres- 
sions in conversation which are looked upon as indelicate in other 
countries, and above all their admitting gentlemen to pay them 
morning visits in their bed chambers have all been urged as 
arguments to support the justness of the censure. For my part 
I am far from agreeing in the common opinion, which is enter- 
tained of the propriety or impropriety of these things. What is 
looked upon as decent in one country, is often condemned as 
highly indecent in another. 

I have heard some Scotch ladies (who are remarkable for their 
delicacy in most things) make use of expressions in public com- 
panies which I should blush to have repeated. Had I expressed 
the same ideas they did, in the language I had always been used 
to in my own country, it is probable they would have blushed 
much more, to have heard them and perhaps, have condemned 
me for a want of delicacy in their company. In Turkey, no 
woman is ever looked upon as virtuous, who has been seen 
dancing with a man. In England and in many other countries we 
see this custom practised withoyt detracting in the least from 
the character of a lady. 



380 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

I am far from thinking a lady's virtue should be called in 
question, who receives a gentleman in her bed-chamber, nor can 
I see wherein the difference consists, between seeing a lady in 
her ordinary dress and under a pile of bed clothes much more 
of the body is exposed in the former case (even by our most 
delicate English ladies) than in the latter. Upon the whole I 
cannot help concluding that there is as much real virtue among 
the ladies of France as v among the women of any other country 
in the world. Too much cannot be made of their accomplish- 
ments of other kinds: a well-bred woman here is one of the 
most entertaining companions in the world. 

'Tis not enough for her to understand the duties of domestic 
life, she extends her enquiries much further, and never thinks 
her education complete till she has acquired some general knowl- 
edge of the principles of geography, philosophy, and belles 
lettres, etc. In spite of all the commonplace declamation against 
women's reading and women's learning, I cannot help thinking 
that some of the above accomplishments add much to the native 
charms of a woman, and render her in every respect a more 
agreeable companion to a man of sense. If a sympathy of affec- 
tions only gives such a degree of happiness in the married state, 
how much greater might it be were there always a sympathy 
of understanding going with it? A common objection to learn- 
ing in women is, that it makes them vain, but were their educa- 
tion more attended to, and a little knowledge in the fine arts 
more common among them, it would in a short time destroy 
that preeminence in a few which is the chief cause of their 
vanity. 

It remains now that I say a few words concerning the re- 
ligion of France. Everybody knows that popery is established 
here by law. The number of Protestants or Hugonots, as they 
were called at the reformation, were supposed to compose ]/z 
of the inhabitants of France but since the great massacre in the 
year 1572, and since the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, 
by Louis XIV their number is very much diminished. The men 
of learning and taste (who are too apt to take the Church of 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 381 

Rome, with all its absurdities, for the true Christian Church) in 
general profess themselves Deists. This must always be the 
case in those countries where all freedom of enquiry in religious 
matters is checked by law. The many artful attacks which have 
been made upon Christianity by the Deistical writers in Eng- 
land instead of lessening its credibility have tended rather to 
establish it by drawing forth some of the most learned publica- 
tions in its defense which have ever appeared upon any subjects 
whatever. 

Were the clergy in France less numerous, less powerful and 
less rich, we might hope that the rapid progress in learning and 
those arts which enlarge and unfetter the human mind have 
made among them would alone be sufficient to overthrow the 
established religion. But this never can be the case, while a city 
like Paris contains 10,000 priests, while they are the first and 
constant companions of each succeeding prince, and while they 
have l /z of all the land in the kingdom in their possession. 

I was led once to visit a monastery at a place called St. Dennis 
(about 6 miles from Paris). There several hundred monks were 
shut up and lived together under one roof. I went to their chapel 
which adjoined their monastery, and heard them say mass. Some 
of them were grey-headed, others bald with age. There was 
something melancholy in seeing such a number of them alone 
at their devotions. I followed them from the chapel after mass 
was over into the monastery. Instead of sitting down and eating 
and drinking or talking together, they parted in a large hall, 
where each one went into his own private apartment. I could 
hardly bear to think of the gloomy manner in which each of 
them passed the remaining part of the evening. Heavens! thought 
I such a religion must be unworthy of God, and unfit for men, 
which dissolves his ties with society, and obliges him to pas^ 
through the world a stranger to the tender names of husband- 
father-friend. Religion does not forbid us the enjoyment of any 
of the good things in life. It only teaches us to enjoy them in 
the devotion, and in subordination to better things. 

I left this solitary asylum of indolent and cowardly piety > if 



382 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

it deserves the name of piety, with a heart filled with pity and 
disgust, and could not help repeating to myself that inimitable 
passage in one of Dr. Stern's Sermons upon Mortification in 
which he says, A good heart wants something to be kind to. Let 
the torpid monk seek heaven comfortless and alone. God speed 
him! I fancy I never should so find the way. Let me have a 
companion in my journey be it only to remark to how are 
shadows lengthening as the sun goes down to whom I may 
say How fresh is the face of nature? How sweet the flowers 
of the field? How delicious are these fruits? 

The nunneries, where young women only are confined, are 
never visited by the men, so I could only view them at a dis- 
tance, or at best peep through the gates of their apartments, 
while they were at worship. The number of nuns in and around 
Paris is very great, those who retire into nunneries for the sake 
of religion compose by far the smaller share of them. Men with 
small fortunes generally contrive to get their daughters off their 
hands, by persuading them to take the veil. ... If they are 
unable to do this, their eldest sons, when they come to take 
possession of their fathers' estates, seldom fail of accomplishing 
it, in order to free the estate from the incumbrance of a small 
jointure, which is allowed them. This unnatural practice is not 
peculiar to France, but is common to all Roman Catholic coun- 
tries, especially where the civil law (which provides so care- 
fully for eldest sons) is in force. 

What shall I say of the politeness of the French nation? 
Politeness has its seat in the heart only, and if an assemblage of 
good qualities, are necessary to constitute it, then the French 
people possess no more of it than many other nations of Europe. 
But if it consists in giving as little pain and as much pleasure 
as possible, to everybody around us as well as in saying and 
doing everything with a graceful manner, then the French have 
a right to lay claim to that character, above all the nations of 
the world. It is true that many of their expressions of civility and 
respect are counterfeit, such as "I am transported to see you" "I 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 383 

am charmed with the company" and "I have the honor to be your 
very humble servant." But even these expressions serve to keep 
up a little ceremony in company, which is absolutely necessary, 
to make conversation agreeable and instructing. Although they 
have no value in themselves, yet they serve as pieces of money 
in trade, as a medium of intellectual commerce among mankind. 

Where men mix much together, as they are obliged to do 
in all large towns a familiarity would be produced which would 
soon destroy all good manners, were they not to keep one an- 
other at a little distance by these formal and seemingly unmean- 
ing modes of addressing each other. They lay a restraint upon 
their passions, or at least they teach them to vent them in such 
a manner that they seldom give much uneasiness or offence. 
Where men meet together often, and neglect these little for- 
malities, however diversified by education or religion they may 
be, we generally find they degenerate into rudeness, which 
seldom fails of ending in disputes, quarrels and the like. 

Much contempt and ridicule have been thrown upon the 
French nation upon the account of the singularity of their dress. 
To suppose that the whole nation was composed of nothing 
but fops and coxcombs, would be to allow them too large a pro- 
portion of the follies of the rest of the world, and to suppose 
that every man who carries a sword or umbrella or wears a muff 
feels a pride in these useless appendages to his dress, would be 
to admit of a union between pride and poverty in some cases, 
between pride and good sense which is rarely to be met with 
in other countries. We shall in a little time trace the origin of 
this singularity in the dress of a Frenchman, and shall find 
perhaps, that pride and vanity have but a very inconsiderable 
share in producing it. 

There is nothing the French nation is more to be envied for 
than the knightliness of their manners, or their knowledge in 
what they call L'art de vivre, or the art of living. With a much 
smaller share of ordinary blessings of life, than many of their 
neighbors possesss, they appear always cheerful and happy. Pov- 



384 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

erty and slavery to a Frenchman are but imaginary evils. They 
cultivate the Social Principle and household arts to which Eng- 
lishmen are strangers. 

Everything which tends to bring the sexes together, tends 
at the same time to increase all the pleasures of society. Men 
when they associate much with each other become rough and 
unpolished; women from the same practice become trifling or 
disagreeable, but by mingling together they mutually polish and 
improve one another. In England the sexes meet only at assem- 
blies, plays and other places of public entertainment. Here every- 
thing is conducted with ceremony which forbids conversation, 
or if this is laid aside, it is only for the sake of introducing cards, 
which will more effectively put a stop to all kinds of improve- 
ment of conversation. In France the sexes besides meeting at 
the above places have frequent select meetings which they call 
coteries. Here ladies and gentlemen meet only to talk upon 
subjects in science. Here they forget their little domestic cares 
and amuse one another with their remarks upon the news, poli- 
tics, witty sayings, books and events of the past day or week. 
There is nothing stiff or reserved in these companies. Some- 
times they all listen to one person speaking; at other times they 
all form themselves into little parties. Some of them sit, some 
stand and walk up and down without any restraint. 

I had the pleasure of belonging to a society of this kind, 
which met at Marquis de Mirabeau's, a nobleman of great merit, 
who has lately distinguished himself by writing some excellent 
pieces, upon the finances, agriculture, commerce and politics of 
France. He calls himself in this work Uwni des homrnes or "A 
friend of mankind." 

Nothing pleased me more in this society than the behavior 
of the ladies. They were the umpires of all disputes. To them 
all the conversation was addressed, and a gentleman was listened 
to with more or less pleasure, according as he seemed to enter- 
tain them. The many judicious remarks and answers they gave 
to what was said and the very agreeable manner in which they 
interested themselves in everything carried on showed how well 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 385 

they were qualified for the part, and entitled to the respect which 
was shown them in this society. 

It is here a proper place to enquire into the causes which con- 
stitute the differences between the manners of a Frenchman 
and an Englishman. For the most part the vivacity of the French 
nation has been attributed to their climate and manner of living. 
But this in my opinion has but a small share in forming their 
characters. This may be easily proved, ist from their differing 
widely from the ancient Gauls who lived in the same climate, 
and 2nd from their retaining their own peculiar manners in all 
countries, more especially in the warm climates of the East and 
West Indies. Further, if their manners were entirely formed by 
their climate or manner of living we should always find the 
same manners in parallel latitudes, and where the same methods 
of living took place. But this we know is far from being the 
case. The peculiarity of their manners must therefore be re- 
solved into imitation. This we prove from the great facility with 
which Englishmen contract their manners when in Paris. Chance 
at first probably gave a sanction to them, and this has through 
time operated with all the force of a law, insomuch that at 
present to deviate from them is to be singular and of consequence 
to be ridiculous. 

Before I conclude the account of manners of the French 
nation, I shall make a little digression and point out a striking 
resemblance in many things between the manners and customs 
of the French and of most savage nations, particularly the In- 
dians, in North America. Civilians divide mankind into 3 classes; 
savage, barbarous and civilized. The Savage lives by fishing and 
hunting; the Barbarous by pasturage and the spontaneous fruits 
of the earth, and the civilized by agriculture. There is a certain 
chain which connects each of these classes together, so that they 
appear to be different parts of one circle. 

All extremes meet in a point. The highest degrees of civiliza- 
tion border a good deal upon savage life. This we shall illustrate 
by mentioning a few of those customs in which the French 
nation, perhaps the most civilized in the whole world, resembles 



3 86 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

Indians or savages. First they possess the most perfect free- 
dom in their behavior and like the savages are strangers to every 
thing which looks like restraint in their intercourse with each 
other. This is the case in a more especial manner in that inter- 
course which subsists between the sexes. We before reconciled 
the seeming indelicacy of the modes of expression and behavior 
of the French ladies in the company of gentlemen with the strict- 
est regard to virtue. The Women among savage nations know 
nothing of the arts of concealing those wants and necessities 
to which their sex has subjected them, from my knowledge of 
them, nor are they acquainted with any mode of expressing 
them, and yet no one has ever pretended, from these circum- 
stances alone, to call their modesty or virtue in question. There 
are instances of some savage nations, among whom these things, 
are looked upon as innocent, who never fail to punish adultery 
and other cases of a want of chastity in the severest manner. 

Secondly. The French Nation, are particularly fond of 
Painting (their faces). This is a question which prevails chiefly 
among Savages. Among these it was introduced partly to defend 
the Race from the inclemency of the weather, and partly to add 
to its Beauty. It is used among the French People chiefly to 
answer the latter Purpose. I know it is condemned by most of 
the civilized nations in Europe. But I am far from thinking that 
common objections made to it, have any weight. No one will 
pretend to say that the works of Nature, are so perfect, as to be 
incapable of receiving any Improvements from Art. Flowers, 
Fields, Forrests and Prospects of all Kinds, all receive new 
Beauties from the Hand of Cultivation. No one thinks it a crime 
to improve the air, and figure of the human body by dancing, 
dress and the like. Why should it be thought criminal then, to 
attempt to improve its Beauty in Painting? A mixture of red 
and white forms the most beautiful contrast of colours in the 
world. The face was formed with this beautiful mixture of 
colours, originally by nature. We see it even yet in those who 
have not lost it by sickness or exposure to the air. 

Painting of cheeks therefore with vermillion is only imitating 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 387 

Nature, and notwithstanding all that has been said against it, 
adds much to its beauty. If an inseparable connection is estab- 
lished in Nature, between such a mixture of colours, and a 
pleasure in the imagination, I see no harm in giving or increasing 
this pleasure by every innocent means, which lies in our 
power. 

Thirdly, the French people eat their principal meal at night. 
A family is seldom convened for this purpose until the evening. 
They go to their closets as often as they are impelled by hunger, 
and eat and drink some light matter, which satisfy them till 
8 or 9 o'clock at night. This is in some measure the custom among 
the Indians. They take but one principal meal in the 24 hours, 
which is for the most part at night, after the fatigue of hunting, 
fishing, or marching in time of War are over. This practice how- 
ever much it may be condemned by some is an appeal among 
civilized nations, from the tyranny of custom to the unerring 
law of Nature. It is always most wholesome to sleep after eating. 
This is the practice of all the brute animals, we are acquainted 
with. Nature recoils from business of all kinds, after a hearty 
meal, nor is this to be wondered at, when we consider that the 
digestion of the food in the stomach, is carried on chiefly by 
fermentation, to which Rest we know contributes so much, that 
no fermentation can be compleat without it. 

Fourthly, The People of Rank and Fortune among the 
French, are particularly fond of Fishing and Hunting. Those are 
their principal amusements. Everybody knows that it is by means 
of these, that all savage nations support themselves. As the 
greatest part of Mankind have been or are still savage, Nature 
has implanted in them a love for these employments, and how- 
ever much it may be restrained, there are few who have not at 
some time of their lives felt the force of this Passion. The Noble- 
man who drives the boar from his den, or chases the stag across 
his woods, or draws the fish from his ponds differs from the 
Indian only in doing these things for his pleasure, while the latter 
is obliged to follow them for his support. There is no life so 
agreeable as that of the savage. It is frefe and independent, and 



3 88 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

in this consists the highest happiness of Man. When he is re- 
moved from it he is perpetually striving to get back to it again. 

The stages in society are like those in human life. A man 
is to be "once a man arid twice a child." So it is with him in 
respect to Society. He is once civilized and when left to follow 
the bent of his inclination will never fail of becoming twice a 
Savage. 

Fifthly. There is one more custom, in which I observed the 
French People to resemble the Savage and that is, they seldom 
address one another by their proper names, but for the most 
part by the titles of "Madame" or "Monsieur." It is no uncom- 
mon thing for a Frenchman, when called by his name in com- 
pany to say "Sir I am much obliged to you for putting me in 
mind of my name, but I assure you, I had not forgot it." I must 
here add to this remark, that I have observed the best people in 
all parts of the World, call one another by their names as seldom 
as possible in company. I am at a loss to point out the foundation 
of this custom in Nature. 

We observe however something like it in the Indians of 
North America. They call one another so seldom by their names, 
that some have supposed they have none, as they are all divided 
into little tribes, which marry within themselves, they become 
in time related in such a manner to each other, that they call 
one another for the most part, by a name which is expressive of 
some of their relations, such as Father, Mother, Sister, Brother 
and Cousin. The last of these is a term, which they use in general 
to those whose relationship is too distant to be traced. This 
custom among the Indians, I know has been urged (with many 
other arguments) to prove that the Indians are descended from 
one of the Jewish Tribes. The Jews we find were fond of 
addressing each other in this manner. Hence we find Abraham 
say to Lot, We are Brethren whereas he was only his nephew. So 
Jacob tells Rachel, that he was her Fathers Brother, when we are 
sure no such relationship, (in the common acceptation of that 
word) subsisted between them. 

But this custom is far from being confined to the Indians 



ON 'MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 389 

in North America: It prevails among many of the Savage Negroes 
in Africa. It must therefore have some foundation in Nature. 
We naturally call those whom we love, by some name expressive 
of that love or respect. A man calls his wife his dear and his 
children his little darlings and the like. A countryman brought 
up at a distance from those places, where the forms of politeness 
are kept up, naturally accosts a Person whom he thinks his 
superior, or who fills some office by a Title which supposes 
him to possess some quality above himself, such as Honour, 
Excellency, Grace, Highness and the like. 

These little things, however trifling they appear to some, 
tend to preserve an harmony and good order among the different 
Ranks of Mankind, which are absolutely necessary to keep up 
the happiness and well being of Society. 

As my time was closely employed all the while I was in Paris, 
I had but little leisure to make excursions in the Country. 
Versailles was the most remarkable place near Paris, that I went 
to see. I found the gardens, palaces, painting and statuary. To 
answer the description I had of them, it would take up a 
volume to give a particular account of every thing I saw here, 
that was beautiful or grand. I shall confine myself only to an 
account of the Royal Family, who reside chiefly in this Palace. 

I arrived at Versailles about n o'clock in the forenoon in 
company with several English gentlemen. I went immediately 
into the Roy all Chapel which adjoins the Palace where we had 
a full view of his Majesty at his Devotion. He is between 59 
and 60 years of age, but looks so well that no one would take 
him to be above 45. His behaviour during the whole service was 
serious, and respectful. After Mass was over we went to see 
the Dauphin and the rest of the Royal Family dine in Public. 
The Dauphin is between 15 and 16 years of age, and tho' so 
young is arrived at his full growth. 

We generally watch with impatience, the openings of the 
minds of those persons, who are born to fill important stations 
in Life. We admire every prelude they give us of Genius, and this 
in some measure from their early behaviour, draw the character 



39 o SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

they will sustain thru' life. Was I to judge from the appearance 
of the Dauphin of France, I should declare, that he was formed 
on purpose to show the world of how little value Crowns, and 
Kingdoms are in the sight of Heaven, or he would never have a 
right to succeed to either of them. He is remarkably coarse 
featured stoops in his shoulders, has a brown skin, and is very 
awkward in every respect. When he first came out to Dinner, 
he sat down without speaking to anybody. Several gentlemen 
and ladies who came occasionally into the room went up and 
bowed to him, but he took no notice of them. 

But this was far from being the most brutish part of his be- 
haviour. During the time of dinner, he took a piece of meat 
from his mouth, which he had been chewing and after looking 
at it for some time in the presence of near i oo spectators, threw 
it under the table. I found upon inquiry, that heTiad never given 
the least proofs of forwardness in anything, and that by his 
preceptions and the people around him, and is regarded only as 
a prodigy of dullness for all Princes according to Dean Swift, 
are prodigies of some sort. Very different is the character of the 
Count TfArto\s y his youngest brother who sat at his left hand. 
He is about 1 2 years of age, but has already, the behaviour of a 
man. I think he is the handsomest form, I ever saw in my life. 
Everybody is charmed with him. Everybody speaks with admi- 
ration of the pregnancy of his genius, of his great love for every 
thing that is noble or princely. So much was I pleased with his 
appearance, that I could not help saying to one of my com- 
panions, who stood by me, that I should not be surprised to hear 
hereafter, that this little Prince directed the Counsels, or led the 
Armies of France all over the World. The King's Daughters 
dined in a private apartment by themselves, to which I was like- 
wise admitted. They had nothing remarkable about them, except 
it was a prodigious quantity of paint upon their cheeks, which 
was still insufficient .to conceal their ages, or to supply the want 
of that Beauty which Nature had denied them. 

I have nothing particular to say of the King of France. He 
appears to be alike incapable of doing either good or harm. Most 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 391 

of his time is spent in Hunting, or with his mistress. Let such 
as maintain the Divine Right of Kings come and behold this 
Monarch, setting on a couch with a common prostitute, picked 
up a few years ago from the streets of Paris, or let them follow 
him in his Forrests and there behold him sporting with the 
death of a fox or stag, and then let them declare if they can, 
that they believe him to be the Lord Anointed: It is Blasphemy 
itself to suppose that God ever gave an absolute command over 
1 8 millions of his creatures, for this is the number of the in- 
habitants of France, to a man like Louis the i5th. 

Before I finish my remarks upon the French Nation, I shall 
only add, that there is one circumstance which bears a very 
favourable aspect upon the liberties of this country and that is, 
that Agriculture, begins to flourish more here than formerly. 
Few countries in the world equal France, for all the varieties 
of soil, climate, manners and situation of every kind, and yet, 
notwithstanding this, so great has been the neglect of cultiva- 
tion here, that an acre of ground in the most fruitful parts of 
France is computed to be worth no more than l / s of an acre in 
most parts of England. Many causes have concurred to prevent 
the cultivation of their lands, the chief of these are, first, the 
extreme contempt, in which Agriculture and Farmers, have 
always been held in France. Secondly, the vast number of Parks 
for hunting which are to be found in all parts of the Kingdom. 
Thirdly. The shortness of leases granted to farmers, by the pro- 
prietors of lands. Fourthly. The want of enclosure for their 
fields. Fifthly. The want of encouragement from the Crown. 
It is easy to see in what manner each of these act, so as to pre- 
vent the encouragement of agriculture. But at present it begins 
to wear a very different appearance. 

Several of the principal men in the Nation have lately written 
very largely upon this subject. Societies for granting premiums 
are now instituting all over the Kingdom, in imitation of those 
formed in England and Scotland. From this it seems probable, 
that the Crown before long will view it in the important light 
it deserves and give proper encouragement to it. It is surprising 



392 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

that so ancient and useful an employment as Agriculture should 
ever fall into disrepute in any country. The Civilization of Man- 
kind and Agriculture began together; all notions of property 
were unknown, while men continued to live by fishing hunting, 
pasturage. As soon as they began to cultivate the Earth, they 
sought fpr the protection of laws, to secure to them, those spots 
of ground which they had cultivated. Agriculture is the only 
valid basis of the riches of any county. In Rome when that 
empire flourished most, we find agriculture was held in the 
highest estimation. Even Emperors themselves have exchanged, 
the pleasures of a Court, for the more innocent enjoyments of 
Husbandry and those hands which had been accustomed to wield 
a Sceptre, and to handle a crown, became voluntarily familiar 
with the plough, the spade, the sickle and the pruning hook. 
The riches of Britain are derived from this source alone. Her 
manufactures, her fleets, her armies and her Empire over the 
Deep, will always keep pace, with her improvements in Agri- 
culture. 

It is owing to this that the American Colonies have in so 
short a space of time arisen to such a pitch of grandeur and 
riches. Where this is neglected, there can be neither riches nor 
grandeur. Spain we find is poor in the midst of all her treasures 
of gold and silver, from the want of industry among her in- 
habitants. The poverty of the greatest part of Germany , Sweden 
and Denmark, is more owing to the neglect of Agriculture, 
than to the Northern situation or natural barrenness of their 
soil. In a word, where agriculture is encouraged, there will be 
riches, where there are riches, there will be Power, and where 
there is Power, there will be Freedom and Independence. 

I might here add a particular account of the names and char- 
acters of Physicians, Chemists, Philosophers and Academicians, 
to whom I was recommended, and among whom, I spent my time 
in the most agreeable manner during my stay in Paris. There is 
no difficulty of getting acquainted with men of this Character 
in France. They seem to acquire knowledge only for the sake 
of communicating it. Besides this, they are extremely polite and 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 393 

hospitable, and have none of those formalities which so much 
distinguish Men of Science in other countries. I cannot help 
mentioning the name of one gentleman of this character, to 
Whom I was introduced by a letter from Dr. Franklin. 

As he honoured me with many civilities whilst I was in Paris, 
and has since favoured me with his correspondence, I desire this 
little history of him to stand as a monument of the high esteem, 
I entertain for his merit and virtues. The name is John Bareix 
Dubourg. When I first went into his house, I found him em- 
ployed in translating the Farmers Letters into French. The first 
question he asked me was, whether I knew the author of them? 
I told him that I had that Honour. He then broke out into a great 
many fine encomiums upon them and said "that in his opinion 
the Roman Orator Cicero, was less eloquent than the Pennsyl- 
vania Farmer." Here I beheld (to borrow an allusion from the 
Farmers Letters) "The Fire of Liberty, still blazing in a country, 
after the altar upon which it was kindled, was burned to the 
ground." 

In a little time I forgot that he was a stranger, I forgot that 
he was a Frenchman, I forgot that he was once the enemy of 
my country. I took him into my arms, nay more. I took him into 
my very Heart. From that moment he became my friend, and 
should I gain no other advantage by going to France, than the 
benefit of his friendship, and correspondence, I shall esteem 
my visit well bestowed. His wife is one of the most amiable 
women in the world. He has lately written a treatise upon 
Botany, calculated for the use of ladies only, which he has dedi- 
cated to his wife. This dedication he designed as a monument 
of their conjugal happiness. They have never had any children. 

When I consider myself in the character of a Physician, that 
one design I had in view, in going to France, was to improve 
myself in knowledge. I cannot avoid adding in this place that 
little improvement in that way is to be acquired in any part of 
this country. Medicine is not cultivated here by men of rank 
and fortune, nor is the profession looked upon so liberal in this 
country, as it is in England or America. I visited most of their 



394 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

hospitals and conversed with several of the principal physicians 
in Paris, and was sorry to find them at least 50 years behind the 
Physicians in England and Scotland in medical knowledge. 

After having satisfied my curiosity with regard to everything 
that was remarkable, or worthy of a stranger's notice in Paris, 
I set off March zist for London. On my return I passed thro' 
several considerable villages, which seemed to be crowded with 
inhabitants Amiens in particular, is said to contain 30,000 in- 
habitants. There is a large and most magnificent Church, built 
by Henry the 3rd, King of England, in memory of some Victory 
gained over the French. The floor and most of the Pillars of the 
Church are of fine marble, the paintings, the ornaments round 
the Altar exceed all description, none of them however struck 
me so much as the Figure of a venerable Abbe, whom I saw 
walking up and down the Church. He appeared to be about 40 
years of age. His complexion was dark, his countenance grave 
inclining a little to the melancholy. His eyes were fixed so in- 
tently upon the floor, that all the noise that was made by those 
who passed and repassed, (some of whom talked pretty loud) 
did not cause him once to lift them up or look up at them. I 
approached him as near as possible, and put myself in his way, 
but it was to no purpose. I could not disturb him. 

Had I giv^n way to the prejudices of my education with 
regard to the opinions, which are entertained in most Protestant 
countries, concerning the Popish Religion, I should have con- 
cluded that this venerable man, this Son of the Roman Catholic 
Church, was plotting some schemes to subvert the State, or to 
eradicate the Tenets of the Heretics. But I was far from cherish- 
ing a thought of this kind. This Holy Man (said I to myself) 
has betook himself this morning to this Sanctuary, in order to 
offer up his Morning Oblations to Heaven. 

The flame of devotion can burn notwithstanding it is kindled 
upon the Altar of Superstition. The Deity pays no regard to 
those little ceremonies, in Worship, which divide most of the 
Christian Churches. He will always worship acceptably, who 
worships him in Spirit and in Truth. The perfume of flowers 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 395 

is the same on whatsoever soil they grow and there is no Church 
I believe so corrupt, that does not contain within its bosom 
many individuals whose devotion (tho' mingled with supersti- 
tion and enthusiasm) does not rise like grateful incense to the 
Throne of Heaven. 

I arrived at Calais March 2jth and sailed next day in the 
Packet Boat for Dover, was 23 hours on the water, altho' the 
distance was but 21 miles. I set out from Dover March 2yth and 
arrived at a Village called Dartford the same day. The next 
morning I set off for London which was within 1 5 miles of Dart- 
ford. With this I finish my account of my journey to Paris. 



DIRECTIONS FOR CONDUCTING 
A NEWSPAPER 

Addressed to Mr. Brown, editor of the 
Federal Gazette 



i . CONSIDER that we live three thousand miles from the nations 
of Europe, and that we have but little interest in their domestic 
parties, or national quarrels. The less therefore you publish of 
them, the better. 

2. Avoid filling your paper with anecdotes of British vices 
and follies. What have the citizens of the United States to do 
with the duels, the elopements, the crim. cons, the kept mis- 
tresses, the murders, the suicides, the thefts, the forgeries, the 
boxing matches, the wagers for eating, drinking, and walking, 
&c. &c. of the people of Great Britain? such stuff, when cir- 
culated through our country, by means of a newspaper, is cal- 
culated to destroy that delicacy in the mind, which is one of 
the safeguards of the virtue of a young country. 

3. If any of the above-named vices should ever be committed 
in the United States, the less that is said about it the better. 
What have the citizens of Philadelphia to do wiA the criminal 

amours of Mr. M , of Boston? the frequent and minute 

histories of such gross vices, take off from the horror they would 
otherwise excite in the mind. 

4. Never suffer your paper to be a vehicle of private scandal, 
or of personal disputes. If the faults of public officers are ex- 
posed, let it be done with decency. No man has a right to attack 

396 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 397 

the vices or follies of private citizens, in a newspaper. Should 
you under a false idea of preserving the liberty of the press, lay 
open the secrets of families, and thereby wound female honour 
and delicacy, I hope our legislature will repeal the law that 
relates to assault and battery, and that the liberty of the bludgeon 
will be as sacred and universal in Pennsylvania, as your liberty 
of the press. 

5. Never publish an article in your paper, that you would 
not wish your wife or daughter (if you have any) should read 
or understand. 

6. The less you publish about yourself the better. What 
have your readers to do with the neglects or insults that are 
offered to you by your fellow citizens? if a printer offends you, 
attack him in your paper, because he can defend himself with 
the same weapons with which you wound him; type against type 
is fair play; but to attack a man who has no types nor printing 
press, or who does not know any thing about the manual of 
using them, is cowardly in the highest degree. If you had been 
in twenty Bunkers-hill battles, instead of one, and had fought 
forty duels into the bargain, and were afterwards to revenge 
an affront, upon a man who was not a printer, in your newspaper, 
I would not believe that you possessed a particle of true courage. 
If such a person injures you, if you are a Christian, you may 
forgive him, or sue him if you are a savage, you may challenge 
him to fight a duel and if you are a wild beast, you may tear 
him to pieces with your claws, or kick him into the gutter. 

7. Publish, .as often as you can obtain them, an exact but 
short account of all the laws that are passed in all the states in 
the Union. 

8. Furnish your customers if possible with the future debates 
of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United 
States. 

9. Let the advancement of agriculture manufactures and 
commerce, be the principal objects of your paper. A receipt to 
destroy the insects that feed upon turnips, or to prevent the rot 
in sheep, will be more useful in America, than all the inventions 



398 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

for destroying the human species, which so often fill the col- 
umns of European newspapers. 

10. Publish a price-current, and a state of the weather, once 
a week; and once a month, publish a list of all the deaths in the 
city and if possible, the names of the diseases which occasioned 
them. 

1 1. Do not neglect to insert a good essay, or paragraph, be- 
cause it has been published in another newspaper. Extracts from 
modern publications upon useful subjects, will at all times be 
acceptable to your readers. 



THE BENEFITS OF CHARITY 

A Dream 



OVERCOME with the heat and business of a warm day, I threw 
myself down in the afternoon of the 6th of this month, upon a 
sopha, where I had not remained long, before I dropped asleep. 
In the course of my nap, the following train of singular events 
were presented to my imagination. They made so strong an im- 
pression upon my mind that I could not help committing them 
to paper, and have since yielded to the importunities of several 
of my friends, to whom I showed them, by consenting to make 
them public, through the medium of the magazine. 

I thought that I was conveyed, suddenly into the kingdom 
of Heaven, where I was first struck with the appearance of a 
large book, lettered on the back "the Judgements and Mercies 
of God" On each side of the book stood an angel with a large 
breast plate, suspended from each of their necks; on one of them 
was engraved in flaming characters, The Destroying Angel, 
on the other was engraved, in letters of gold, The Angel of 
Mercy. The title of the latter engaged my attention and con- 
fidence, and I took the liberty of asking him the meaning of the 
book, and the nature of the offices which he and his companion 
held in the heavenly mansions. With a smile of benignity he told 
me, that the large book contained a particular account of all the 
judgments of God, which had ever been inflicted upon the 
nations and inhabitants of the earth, as well as the deliverances 
and mercies which had been conferred upon them. "My friend 
on the right hand, said he, is the minister of the former. I have 

399 



4 oo SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

the happiness of bdng the minister of the latter War fire 
pestilence famine and earthquakes sue to him for employ- 
ment, whenever he visits the earth while peace plenty and 
ioy always follow my footsteps." After this he gave me an 
account of the steps which preceded all the great and terrible 
calamities which had destroyed cities and countries in different 
ages of the world. As I still retained an affection for the city 
of Philadelphia, I expressed a desire to know something of the 
past and future dispensations of Providence towards it. "You 
shall be gratified (said the angel of mercy.) In this book is an 
exact detail of these dispensations." Upon this he opened the 
book, which was of a folio size, and begged me to read the con- 
tents of half a page, which I accordingly did, and which, as 
nearly as I can recollect, contained the following history. 

"In the month of June 1778 an order was issued to destroy 
the city of Philadelphia by fire. The destroying angel, had 
already winged his flight with a flaming torch in his hand, to 

lay that beautiful city in ashes. When, suddenly, the angel 

of mercy pointed to the Pennsylvania Hospital, which stands in 
the neighbourhood of the city. Instantly the destroying angel 
extinguished his torch in the river Delaware, and returned to his 
usual post in the kingdom of heaven. 

In the year 1786 an edict was issued to punish the city of 
Philadelphia for its wickedness by famine. The destroying angel 
appeared with blights and mill-dew, and insects of various 
kinds, which feed on all manner of vegetable aliment, in his 
hand. The angel of mercy appeared, and with his right hand 
and eyes uplifted to heaven, pointed to a small building in Straw- 
berry Alley, called the Dispensary, and offered up at the same 
time the prayers and praises of upwards of 1800 patients who 
had been relieved by it from sickness and death. Instantly the 
destroying angel disappeared, the autumn was crowned with 
plenty, and the inhabitants enjoyed their usual profusion of the 
good things of life. 

In the month of March 1787, the wickedness of Philadelphia 
increased to such a degree, as to awaken the divine vengeance a 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 401 

third time, and the destroying angel was commanded to let loose 
upon it the calamities of sickness and death. He appeared with 
a box in his hand, in which was confined the contagion of a 
malignant fever. The angel of mercy followed close upon his 
heels, and pointed to the Society for the Gradual Abolition of 
Slavery, 'and the Relief of Free Negroes, unlawfully held in 
Bondage. The destroying angel buried his box, and retired again 
to heaven. 

In the month of May, of the same year, the wickedness of 
Philadelphia again provoked the wrath of heaven; and the de- 
stroying angel was sent to excite among her citizens a civil war. 
Already he waved in the air all the terrible instruments of death. 
The angel of mercy wept over the calamities which threatened 
the children of men; but he soon wiped away his tears upon 
contemplating the German Lutheran school house. "Behold! 
here, (said he to the destroying angel) a Society for Alleviating 
the Miseries of Public Prisons. See in the chair of the society 
the Bishop of Pennsylvania, and at his right hand the minister 
of the Lutheran church. See! the chains fall from the prisoner, 
and hunger nakedness and vice fly before them." Instantly 
the destroying angel broke his military instruments into a thou- 
sand pieces, and winged his way to the regions of peace and 
happiness. 

In the month of July of the same year, the cry of the wicked- 
ness of the citizens of Philadelphia once more reached the 
heavens. The divine wrath was kindled in a more especial manner 
at the profanation of the Sabbath day, and at the impious and 
indecent language, which was to be heard from the children in 
the streets in every part of the city. The destroying angel was 
commissioned to overwhelm the city by an earthquake. 
Though habituated to the business of destruction, he hesitated 
in the execution of his order. At last he appeared with a mixture 
of sulphur air water and fire (the ingredients of earthquakes) 
in his hand. The angel of mercy looked around him, for a pious 
and charitable institution, to plead with heaven in favour of the 
city. Having heard of a proposal he cried out free-schools. 



402 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

u But where are they" said the destroying angel? In vain he 
sought for them in every part of the city. But "hold (said the 
angel of mercy) allow the citizens of Philadelphia only a few 
months more, and they will establish them. Hear in the mean 
time the following prayer." M ay ive be accepted, also concern- 
ing one thhig nrore, O God! our spirit is stirred up ^ith com-* 
passion for the vmltitudes of children in this great city, 'who 
stroll about unheeded and untaught. Lord of Mercy! Make 
speed to save them, by putting It into the hearts of the humane, 
and affluent to gather these destitute ones, in some kindly folds 
of instruction, that they likewise may become useful and happy.* 

The destroying angel was moved with the language of this 
prayer. Pie retired a few minutes from the sight of the angel of 
mercy, and upon returning addressed him in the following 
words. "I am commanded to suspend the execution of the last 
sentence, denounced against the city of Philadelphia, upon a 
certain condition. If the inhabitants shall unite and establish 
free schools in which human learning shall be accompanied, and 
corrected with religious instruction, at any time before the first 
of May 1788, the city shall not be destroyed by an earthquake, 
nor shall the righteous indignation of heaven, again be awakened 
against it; for the diffusion of knowledge and religion among the 
poor shall protect it against every evil, and render this city the 
delight and admiration of the world." 

Here I closed the book, and was suddenly conveyed back 
to my native city. Anxious to preserve it from destruction, I 
flew immediately to the State House, where I was introduced 
to the presence of the General Assembly. My countenance, I 
suppose, bespoke distress and impatience, for the speaker inter- 
rupted the business of the house, and called upon me to know 
whether I had any thing to communicate to the assembly. After 
a low bow at the bar of the house, I began to address them, as 
nearly as I can remember, in the following language. "Legislators 

* This excellent petition is part of a sublime and devout prayer, de- 
livered by Dr. Magaw, at the close of the quarterly examination, on the 
z8th of July, at Mr. Brown's Female Academy. 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 403 

of Pennsylvania, permit me to call your attention a few minutes 
from the present subject of your deliberations, to the salvation 
of the city of Philadelphia. It is in your power to save it from 
being destroyed by an earthquake. It is in vain to enact laws 
to suppress, or to punish vice and immorality. It is of much more 
consequence, and infinitely more easy, to prevent them, by pro- 
viding for the education of the children of poor people. Have 
compassion upon yourselves. Let not human nature be de- 
graded any longer in Pennsylvania by the crimes and punish- 
ments which follow ignorance and vice. Hear ye guardians 
of the lives of your fellow citizens, the dreadful catastrophe 
which awaits the capital of your state. Nothing can prevent it 
but the immediate establishment of free schools in your city. 
On the ist day of May, in the year of our Lord 1788." In 
pronouncing these words, my voice faltered, and I attempted 
in vain to finish the sentence. The agitation of my mind and body 
attracted the sympathy of a gentleman who sat near me, who, 
in offering me the support of his hand, suddenly awaked me 
from my dream. 



THE YELLOW FEVER 

Some Family Letters 



PHILAD A : Aug: 21. 1793. 

MY DEAR JULIA, To prevent your being deceived by reports 
respecting the sickliness of our city, I sit down at a late hour, and 
much fatigued, to inform you that a malignant fever has broken 
out in Water Street between Arch and Race Streets which has 
already carried off twelve persons within the space which -has 
been mentioned. It is supposed to have been produced by some 
damaged coffee which had putrified on one of the wharves near 
the middle of the above district. The disease is violent and of 
short duration. In one case it killed in twelve hours, and in no 
case has it lasted more than four days. Among its victims is 
Mrs. LeMaigre. I have attended three of the persons who have 
died with it, and seven or eight who have survived, or who are 
I hope recovering from it. 

As yet it has not spread thro' any parts of the city which are 
beyond the reach of the putrid exhalation which first produced 
it. If it should, I shall give you notice, that you may remain 
where you are till you receive further advice and information 
from me. The influenza continues to spread, and with more 
violent symptoms than when it made its first appearance. I did 
more business in 1780 than I do at present, but with much less 
anxiety, for few of the diseases of that year were attended with 
any danger, whereas now, most of the cases I attend are acute 

404 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 405 

and alarming, and require an uncommon degree of vigilance and 
attention. 

Aug: 22. 

Marcus has been ill with the influenza, but is now better. 
Rich'd: Ben, and all the rest of the family are in good health. 

I have just rec'd: a letter from Dr. * * * in which he has the 
following paragraph: "I have just seen Mr. Woolstonecraft. He 
does not like your lands, and that for the most childish reasons. 
He says that he saw but one flight of pheasants, three fishy ducks 
and not one woodcock on the whole creek, and that he will never 
settle anywhere where he cannot support himself by his gun" 

So much the better! I have received since you left town 
conveyances for nearly all the lands I sold to the New Eng'd. 
men. They adjoin the lands sold by Rob't. Morris to the French 
Company who are about to improve them in the most extensive 
manner next Spring. All is for the best and all ivill end 'well. 

A son of Dr. Priestley has just arrived in this city from 
France. He gives a most distressing account of the affairs of that 
country. But let us not despair. Chaos existed before the order 
and beauty of the universe. The devil who is the present tenant 
of our world, will not quit his hold of it till he has done the 
premises all the mischief that lies in his power, but go he must 
sooner or later, with all his family of nobles and kings. 

Adieu: with love as usual I am my dear Julia, 

Yours affect'y, 

BENJ N RUSH. 
P.S. John should come home as soon as his vacation expires. 



PHILADELPHIA, AUG: 25. 1793. 

MY DEAR JULIA, Since my letter to you of Friday, the fever 
has assumed a most alarming appearance. It not only mocks in 
most instances the power of medicine, but it has spread thro' 



406 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

several parts of the city remote from the spot where it originated. 
Water Street between Arch and Race Streets is nearly desolated 
by it. This morning I witnessed a scene there, which reminded 
me of the histories I had read of the plague. In one house I lost 
two patients last night, a respectable young merchant and his 
only child. His wife is frantic this evening with grief. Five other 
persons died in the neighbourhood yesterday afternoon and four 
more last night at Kensington. The College of Physicians met this 
afternoon to consult upon the means of checking the progress of 
this dreadful disease. They appointed a Committee to draw up 
directions for that purpose. The Committee imposed this business 
upon me, and I have just finished them. They will be handed to 
the Mayor when adopted by the College and published by him in 
a day or two. I hope, and believe that they will^be useful. 

After this detail of the state of the fever, I need hardly re- 
quest you to remain for a while with all the children where you 
are. Many people are flying from the city, and some by my 
advice. Continue to commit me by your prayers to the protection 
of that Being who has so often manifested his goodness to our 
family by the preservation of my life, and I hope I shall do well. 
I endeavour to have no will of my own. I enjoy good health and 
uncommon tranquility of mind. While I depend upon divine 
protection, and feel that at present I live, move, and have my 
being in a more especial manner in God alone, I do not neglect to 
use every precaution that experience has discovered, to prevent 
taking the infection. I even strive to subdue my sympathy for 
my patients, otherwise I should sink under the accumulated 
loads of misery I am obliged to contemplate. You can recollect 
how much the loss of a single patient once in a month used 
to affect me. Judge then how I must feel, in hearing every 
morning of the death of three or four! 

I shall confine John and Richard to the house, and oblige them 
to use precautions against the disorder. My mother and sister are 
so kind and attentive as to prevent all our wants and wishes. 

My love to your uncle and aunt and all the children. I am 
afraid you will burden our good relations, No this cannot be. 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 407 

They love you, and they love to do offices of kindness and 
humanity. 

Adieu; from your 

sincere and affectionate 

BENJ N RUSH. 



PHILAD A Aug: 29 th 1793- 

MY DEAR JULIA, Your letter dated yesterday came safe to 
hand. 

I am pleased with your situation at your good aunts. Be 
assured that I will send for you, if I should be seized with the 
disorder, for I conceive that it would be as much your duty not 
to desert me in that situation, as it is now mine not to desert 
my patients. I have sent Becky with Ben to Mr. Bradford's farm 
this afternoon. They were most affectionately received by Betsey 
Johnson. Mrs. Wallace furnished them with tea, coffee, sugar 
and sundry other things to render them less burdensome to our 
good friends. The disease has raged with great virulence this 
day. Among the dead are Woodruf Sims, and Mr. Stiles the stone 
cutter. The last exhibited signs of the plague before he died. 
I have seen the same symptoms in the hospital fever during the 
late war. They have however greatly increased the terror of 
our citizens, and have excited an apprehension that it is in reality 
the Plague, but this I am sure is not the case, altho' it comes 
nearer to it in violence and mortality than any disease we have 
ever before had in this country. Its symptoms are very different 
in different people. Sometimes it comes on with a chilly fit, and 
a high fever, but more frequently it steals on with headache, 
languor and sick stomach. These symptoms are followed by 
stupor, delirium, vomiting, a dry skin, cool or cold hands and 
feet, a feeble slow pulse, sometimes below in frequency the 
pulse of health. The eyes are at first suffused with blood, they 
afterwards become yellow, and in most cases a yellowness covers 
the whole skin on the 3rd. or 4th. day. Few survive the 5th 



4 o8 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

day, but more die on the 2nd. and 3rd. days. In some cases the 
patients possess their reason to the last, and discover much less 
weakness than in the last stage of common fevers. One of my 
patients stood up and shaved himself on the morning of the day 
he died. Livid spots on the body, a bleeding at the nose, from 
the gums and from the bowels, and a vomiting of black matter 
in some instances close the scenes of life. The common reme- 
dies for malignant fevers have all failed. Bark, wine and blisters 
make no impression upon it. Baths of hot vinegar applied by 
means of blankets, and the cold bath have relieved and saved 
some. Mrs. Chalmer owes her life to the former remedy. She 
caught it from her husband, who caught it in Water Street near 
the place where it originated. He too is upon the recovery. 
This day I have given mercury, and I think with some advan- 
tage. Dr. . . . and myself consult much together, and I derive 
great support and assistance from him in all my attempts to stop 
the progress of this terrible malady. He is an excellent man, 
and rises in his humanity and activity with the danger and dis- 
tress of his fellow citizens. I have advised all the families that I 
attend, that can move, to quit the city. There is but one pre- 
ventative of it that is certain, and that is "to fly from it." 

Johnny Stall sleeps and eats with us, and thereby relieves 
me very much. My mother and sister are a part of the means that 
providence employs to preserve me from the infection. They are 
very kind. Mrs. Wallace has contrived a small mattress on some 
chairs on which I rest myself by lying down every time I come 
into the house. Adieu, with love to your Mama, your aunts, the 
children, and all friends, I am my Dear Julia 

Your faithful and affectionate 

BENJ N RUSH. 

Aug.- 30th. Another night and morning have been added to 
my life. I am preparing to set off for my daily round of duty, 
and feel heartily disposed to say with Jabez, "O that the hand 
of the Lord may be with me" not only to preserve my life, but 
to heal my poor patients. Betsey's relations are all well. 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 409 

PHILAD A Septem: i. 1793. 

MY DEAR JULIA, In the language of good old Dr. Sproats 
prayer I am enabled yet to thank God "that I am alive, while 
others are dead." Two persons have died at Mrs. Lewis', next 
door to Peter Bayntons with the malignant fever, viz: Two of 
the Misses Mifflins. A woman has died with the same disorder 

in Dock Street near and her husband will probably 

follow her before tomorrow morning. Thirty-eight persons have 
died in eleven families in nine days in Water Street, and many 
more in different parts of the city. Funerals are conducted 
agreeably to the advice of the College of Physicians. 

BENJ N RUSH. 

Wed. Sept. 4. 1793. 

MY DEAR JULIA, The post is on the wing. I can only inform 
you that I put a letter into the post office for you directed to 
Princeton this morning. I shall, if well, write to you again 
this evening. After a busy morning, I am, thank God, still in 
good health. Dr. ... is not dead, but in great danger. The dis- 
ease spreads, but its mortality is much less in proportion to the 
number who are affected. The jalap and mercury cures 9 out 
of 10, of all who take it on the day of the attack. Adieu. 

BENJ N RUSH. 



PHILAD A Septem: 5: 1793. 

MY DEAR JULIA, Still alive and in good health, after hav- 
ing visited and prescribed for nearly one hundred patients. 
The disease continues to spread, but with no more mortality 
than a common bilious fever in the hands of those physicians 
who use the mercurial antidote. I now save 29 out of 30 of all 
to whom I am called on the first day, and many to whom I am 
called after it. Fewer deaths have occurred I believe this day than 
on several days last week, and yet many hundred people have 
the fever now than had it last week. Some of my brethren rail 
at my new remedy, but they have seen little of the disease, and 



4 io SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

some of them not a single patient. Most of the publications in 
the papers come from those gentlemen. They abound in ab- 
surdities and falsehoods. This night will probably end the busy 
life of Dr. . . . He continued to object to taking my medicine 
and was supported in his obstinacy by two young Doctors who 
had obtruded themselves upon him. Dr. ... is better. Dr. . . . 
is well, and my invaluable friend ... is out of danger. Poor 
Bill Bache was almost heart broken during his masters indisposi- 
tion. Pet. Baynton is infected, Mrs. Baynton, Kitty and Mrs. 
Bullock are all in a safe way. I have had 1 2 new calls today, and 
have not lost a single patient since the night before last. I have 
found lately I hope a preventative of the disease, as well as a 
cure. It consists [not in drenching the stomach with wine, bark 
and bitters] but in keeping the bowels gently open, for in them 
the disease first fixes its poison. I owe these discoveries, as well 
as my preservation, to the prayers of my friends. 

Septem. 6th. 6 o'clock in the morning. Blessed be God, my 
life, health and reason are still preserved to me. I forgot to 
mention that one of my pupils Washington has got the disease. 

He lies at Mrs. a mile from town, where he is so 

much ashamed of being visited by me, that I heard of his illness 
by accident only from Johnny Stall. I shall try to see him, tho' I 
fear from the violence of his symptoms, and the progress of the 
disease that he will not recover. John Cox has become active and 
useful to me. He is very intelligent on the subject of the dis- 
order, and knows no fear. Dr. . . . has taken charge of all 
Dr. . . . public patients, and is to divide the profits of attend- 
ing them equally. If the Dr. survives, the partnership is to be 
perpetual. But this is improbable, for tho' I have just heard that 
he is still alive, yet I hear that he has a symptom which none 
[at least of my patients] have survived. Adieu. The box of 
clothes, with a letter from my sister were sent this morning by 
the stage committed to the care of Mr. Sayre. I paid the freight 
of the box here. Adieu; my love to all the family at Morven. 
Do oblige the boys to read systematically, and to avoid cold, 
fatigue and heat, also intemperance in eating, for each of those 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 411 

existing causes has produced the disease when the body has been 
infected. There is no certainty that they did not carry the in- 
fection from town. It lies from i to 16 days in the body, and the 
fever may be excited at any time within those days. 
Adieu, again; yours, yrs yrs 

BENJ N RUSH. 



PHILADELPHIA Septem r 15, 1793. 

MY DEAR JULIA, Life and health become every day more 
and more a miracle in persons who are constantly exposed to it. 
The disease spreads. Scarcely a family escape it. I have this day 
visited above twenty families which have all from two to six 
persons in it confined to their beds, and many which have one. 

Poor Mr. ! After dismissing me and sending for a 

French physician, sent for me again this morning; but alas! it 
was too late to help him. He was yellow, cold and puking blood. 
"O Doctor" said he Bringing his hands, "I was persuaded by 
my friends to employ the French physician. But help me r help 
me." I told him I would do my utmost for him, and with a heart 
wrung with anguish I hurried from his room. Many, many such 
scenes do I witness daily. For several days past I have sent 50 and 
60 patients to other doctors. My old patients are constantly pre- 
ferred by me. . . .'s publication has done immense mischief. 
Many doctors still follow him, and scores are daily sacrificed 
to bark and wine. My method is too simple for them. They 
forget that a stone from the sling of David effected what the 
whole armoury of Saul could not do. Many hundreds of my 
patients now walk the streets and follow their ordinary business. 
Could our physicians be persuaded to adopt the new mode of 
treating the disorder, the contagion might be eradicated from 
our city in a few weeks. But they not only refuse to adopt it 
but they persecute and slander the author of it. Sep. 16. Since 
writing the above I have had an attack of the disorder, but in 
consequence of losing blood and taking one of my purges I am 
now perfectly well so much so that I rested better last night 



4 i2 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

than I have done for a week past. Thus you see that I have 
proved upon my own body that the yellow fever when treated 
in the new way, is no more than a common cold. I tho't it proper 
to give you this information to prevent your being alarmed by 
reports concerning me. Dont think of coming to see me. Our 
city is a great mass of contagion. The very air in it is now offen- 
sive to the smell. If I should relapse you shall hear from me. Mr. 
Stall and Mr. Cox are doing wonders in our city. They visit and 
cure all my patients. Adieu. Continue not only to pray for, but 
to give thanks for my dear Julia your 

ever affectionate 

BENJ N RUSH. 



PHILADELPHIA Octob r 28. 1793. 

MY DEAR JULIA, I have great pleasure in informing you 
that Dr. ... is much better. He was bled five times. After the 
3 rd bleeding an old patient of Dr. . . .'s yent down to Glouces- 
ter and begged Mrs. ... in the most pathetic terms not to 
consent to his being bled again. Mrs. . . . acted with firmness 
and propriety, and submitted to the subsequent bleedings with 
full confidence of their being proper, tho' advised only by 
Mr. Coxe. In this way have I been opposed and frequently de- 
feated, from the commencement of the disorder, by the interfer- 
ence of the friends and followers of Dr. . . . 

The disease visibly and universally declines. But some worthy 
people still have it, among whom is our cousin Parry Hall who 
is in great danger. Dr. . . . and Mr. Fisher attend him. 

Tomorrow we expect to move into the front parlour. Our 
little back parlour has resembled for two months past the cabin 
of a ship. It has been shop, library, council chamber, dining 
room, and at night a bed chamber for one of the servants. My 
mother has hired Betsey Correy at 7/6 a week to take charge 
of the kitchen, which will enable Marcus to clean and white- 
wash the house, and to purify all the infected articles of furni- 
ture in it. 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 413 

A new clamor has been excited against me in which many 
citizens take a part. I have asserted that the yellow fever was 
generated in our city. This assertion they say will destroy the 
character of Philad. for healthiness, and drive Congress from it. 
Truth in science as in morals never did any harm. If I prove 
my assertion, which I can most easily do, I shall at the same time 
point out the means of preventing its ever being generated 
among us again. I am urged to bring forward my proofs im- 
mediately. To this I have objected, until I am able to call upon 
a number of persons for the priviledge of using their names. 
To a gentleman who pressed the matter upon me this day, 1 
said that the good opinion of the citizens of Philad. was now of 
little consequence to me, for that I thought it probable from 
present appearances, that I should begin to seek a retreat and 
subsistance in some other part of the United States. 

"Do all the good you can [said Mr. Westly to Mr. Pilmore 
when he entered into the ministry], expect to be persecuted 
for doing good, and learn to rejoice in persecution," a hard 
lesson to flesh and blood! but I hope it will please my divine 
Master to teach it to me. 

Octob r 29 th . We are all well thank God! Adieu from yours 
with usual love and sincerity. 

BENJ N RUSH. 



Octob r 29. 1793. 

MY DEAR SISTER, Your affectionate letters drew tears from 
our eyes. Never did a brother feel more for the loss of a sister 
than I felt for ours. She was my friend and councillor in the 
difficult and distressing duties I was called upon to perform to my 
fellow citizens. She was my nurse in sickness. In short she gave 
her life to save mine, for when she was advised to go out of 
town to escape the fever, she calmly said "no, I will stay and 
take care of my brother, though I were sure I should die with 
the disorder, for my life is of no consequence to anybody com- 
pared with his." During the prevalence of the fever she was 



4 i4 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

active, intelligent and useful among the patients who crowded 
my house at every hour of the day, and at most of the hours 
of the night. No person ever wept in our parlour or entry [and 
many, many tears were shed in both] with whom she did not 
weep. Her whole soul was made up of sympathy and kindness. 
In her last illness she was composed, and patient as an angel. 
She repeated several passages from the psalms expressive of the 
love and goodness of God, the day before she died. Her last 
words to me were "A thousand and a thousand thanks to you my 
dear brother for all your kindness to me." 

BENJ N RUSH. 



PHILADELPHIA Nov r 8 th 1793. 

MY DEAR JULIA, I have this day received by Capt. Josiah 
from London, a letter to you from Dr. . . . accompanied with 
your silk gown which you committed to his care to be dyed. 
I have sent the letter by the post. I received a long and interest- 
ing letter from him at the same time, also a valuable medical 
book from Dr. Proudfit. 

The disease has declined again since the last rain. I have had 
no calls to patients in the yellow fever for two days past, but 
several to patients indisposed with other diseases. My applica- 
tions for advice in my house have been considerable likewise, 
but from no person affected with our late epidemic. 

That my letters may contain a faithful narrative of all that 
related to myself during the late calamities of our city, I may 
now venture to inform you that in the morning of Octob r io th 
at one o'clock, I was attacked in a most violent manner with all 
the symptoms of the fever. Seldom have I endured more pain. 
My mind sympathized with my body. You, and my seven dear 
children rushed upon my imagination, and tore my heart strings 
in a manner I had not experienced in my former illness. A re- 
covery in my weak and exhausted state, seemed hardly probable. 
At 2 o'clock I called up Marcus and Mr. Fisher who slept in the 
adjoining room. Mr. Fisher bled me which instantly removed 



ON MISCELLANEOUS THINGS 415 

my pains, and then gave me a dose and an half of the mercurial 
medicine. It puked me several times during the night, and 
brought off a good deal of bile from my stomach. The next 
morning it operated downwards, and relieved me so much, that 
I was able to sit up long eno' to finish my letter to you. In the 
afternoon, my fever returned, attended with a* sleepiness, which 
is always considered as an alarming symptom. Mr. Fisher bled 
me again, which immediately removed it. I slept pretty well, the 
next night, was very weak, but free of pain the next day; but 
the night following, I fell into just such a fainting fit, as I had 
about the crisis of my pleurisy in the year 1788. I called upon 
Marcus who slept in the room with me for something to drink, 
and afterwards for some nourishment, which revived me in a 
few minutes, so that I slept well the remaining part of the night. 
One or two nights afterwards he gave me something to eat, 
which prevented a return of the fainting fits. It was not till the 
1 5 th of the month I was able to sit up, nor did I leave my room 
for many days afterwards. Mr. Fisher says he has seen no person 
more violently seized than I was. My recovery was under God 
owing to the speedy use of the new remedies. 

This second attack of the fever, I now see was sent in mercy 
to me and my family. Had I not been arrested by it in my 
labors, my poor frame would probably have sunk before this 
time, under nothing but weakness, and fatigue. 

I used to wish when called to more patients than I could 
attend, that I had an hundred hands, and an hundred feet. I now 
wish that I had an hundred hearts and an hundred tongues to 
praise the power, goodness and mercy of my gracious Deliverer, 
to whom alone belong the issues from sickness, and the grave. 

Strike out from the list of deaths in your letters Jos. Harrison, 
and Jon th Penrose. Many people walk the streets now, who were 
said to be dead, during the prevalence of the disorder. Adieu. 
Love as usual. 

Yrs. sincerely 

BENJ N RUSH, 



APPENDIX 



LIST 

of the 'writings of Benjamin Rush published during his lifetime. 



An inquiry into the natural history of medicine among the 
Indians of North America, and a comparative view of their 
diseases and remedies, with those of civilized nations. 

An account of the climate of Pennsylvania, and its influence upon 
the human body. 

An account of the bilious remitting fever, as it appeared in Phila- 
delphia in the summer and autumn of the year 1780. 

An account of the scarlatina anginosa, as it appeared in Philadel- 
phia in the years 1783 and 1784. 

An inquiry into the cause and cure of the cholera infantum. 

Observations on the cynanche trachealis. 

An account of the efficacy of blisters and bleeding in the cure 
of obstinate intermitting fevers. 

An account of the disease occasioned by drinking cold water in 
warm weather, and the method of curing it. 

An account of the efficacy of common salt in the cure of haemop- 
tysis. 

Thoughts on the cause and cure of pulmonary consumption. 

Observations upon worms in the alimentary canal, and upon 
anthelmintic medicines. 

An account of the external use of arsenic in the cure of cancers. 

Observations on the tetanus. 

The result of observations made upon the diseases which occurred 

419 



420 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

in the military hospitals of the United States, during the 

Revolutionary War. 
An account of the influence of the military and political events 

of the American Revolution upon the human body. 
An inquiry into the relations of tastes and aliments to each other, 

and upon the influence of this relation upon health and 

pleasure. 

The new method of inoculating for the small-pox. 
An inquiry into the effects of ardent spirits upon the human 

body and mind, with an account of the means of preventing, 

and the remedies for curing them. 
Observations on the duties of a physician, and the methods of 

improving medicine; accommodated to the present state of 

society and manners in the United States. 
An inquiry into the causes and cure of sore legs. 
An account of the state of the body and mind in old age, with 

observations on its diseases and their remedies. 
An inquiry into the influence of physical causes upon the moral 

faculty. 

Observations upon the cause and cure of pulmonary consump- 
tion. 

Observations upon the symptoms and cure of dropsies. 
Inquiry into the cause and cure of the gout. 
Observations on the nature and cure of the hydrophobia. 
An account of the measles as they appeared in Philadelphia in the 

spring of 1789. 
An account of the influenza, as it appeared in Philadelphia in the 

years 1790 and 1791. 
An inquiry into the cause of animal life. 
Outlines of a theory of fever. 

An account of the bilious yellow fever, as it appeared in Phila- 
delphia in 1793, and of each successive year till 1805. 
An inquiry into the various sources of the usual forms of the 

summer and autumnal diseases in the United States, and the 

means of preventing them. 
Facts, intended to prove the yellow fever not to be contagious. 



APPENDIX 421 

Defence of blood-letting, as a remedy in certain diseases. 

An inquiry into the comparative states of medicine in Philadel- 
phia, between the years 1760 and 1766, and 1805. 

A volume of essays, literary, moral and philosophical, in which 
the following subjects are discussed: 

A plan for establishing public schools in Pennsylvania, and for 
conducting education agreeably to a republican form of 
government. Addressed to the legislature, and citizens of 
Pennsylvania, in the year 1786. 

Of the mode of education proper in a republic. 

Observations upon the study of the Latin and Greek languages, 
as a branch of liberal education; with hints of a plan of 
liberal instruction without them, accommodated to the pres- 
ent state of society, manners, and government, in the United 
States. 

Thoughts upon the amusements and punishments which are 
proper for schools. 

Thoughts upon female education, accommodated to the present 
state of society, manners and government, in the United 
States of America. 

A defence of the Bible as a school book. 

An address to the ministers of the gospel of every denomination 
in the United States, upon subjects interesting to morals. 

An inquiry into the consistency of the punishment of murder 
by death, with reason and revelation. 

A plan of a peace-office for the United States. 

Information to Europeans who are disposed to migrate to the 
United States of America. 

An account of the progress of population, agriculture, manners 
and government, in Pennsylvania. 

An account of the manners of the German inhabitants of Penn- 
sylvania. 

Thoughts on common sense. 

An account of the vices peculiar to the Indians of North America. 

Observations upon the influence of the habitual use of tobacco, 
upon health, morals, and property. 



422 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

An account of the sugar maple tree of the United States. 

An account of the life and death of Edward Drinker, who died 

on the iyth of November, 1782, in the one hundred and 

third year of his age. 
Remarkable circumstances in the constitution and life of Ann 

Woods, an old woman of ninety-six years of age. 
Biographical anecdotes of Benjamin Lay. 
Biographical anecdotes of Anthony Benezet. 
Paradise of negro slaves a dream. 
Eulogium upon Dr. William Cullen. 
Eulogium upon David Rittenhouse. 
A volume of lectures, most of which were introductory to his 

annual courses of lectures on the institutes and practice of 

medicine. 

% 

Medical inquiries and observations on the diseases of the mind. 



SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 

"A Memorial containing Travels Through Life, or Sundry Incidents in 
the Life of Dr. Benjamin Rush. Written by Himself. Also Extracts 
from His Commonplace Book as well as A Short History of the Rush 
Family in Pennsylvania." Edited by Louis Alexander Biddle. Lanoraie, 
1905. 

"An Account of the Bilious Remitting Yellow Fever as It Appeared in the 
City of Philadelphia in the Year 1793." Philadelphia, 1794. 

"Old Family Letters Relating to the Yellow Fever." Series B. Edited by 
Alexander Biddle. Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott, 1892. 

"Rush Papers" in the Ridgway Branch of the Library Company of 
Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Historical Society, the American 
Philosophical Society, the Pierpont Morgan Library, the University 
of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia College of Physicians, the Girard 
Estate, the New York Academy of Medicine, the New York 
Historical Society, the Library of Congress. Also in the following 
collections: Dreer, Gratz, Cadwalader, Conarroe, Etting, Irvine, 
Logan, Pemberton, Peters, Sprague, Watson, Wayne and Wilson 
Papers. 

"Rush Letters" in the Library Company of Philadelphia; Yale University 
Library, Franklin Collection; Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 
Gratz Collection. 

"Journal of Rush's Trip to Paris" in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New 
York. 

"Letters of Members of the Continental Congress." Edited by E. C. 
Burnett, Washington, D. C., 1921-36. Volumes I to III, Volume VII. 

Index Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon- General's Office, U. S. A., 
Volume XII. Washington, D. C, 1891. 



Ramsay, David. "An Eulogium upon Benjamin Rush, M.D." 1813. 

Robinson, Victor. "The Myth of Benjamin Rush." Medical Life, Septem- 
ber 1929, Volume XXXVI. 

Cobbett, William. Porcupine's Gazette. Philadelphia, files for 1797. The 
Rush Light. New York, 1800. 

Eve, Sarah. "Extracts from the Journal of Miss Sarah Eve While Living 
near the City of Philadelphia in 1772-3." Pennsylvania Magazine of 
History and Biography, Volume V. Philadelphia, 1881. 

4 2 3 



4 2 4 SELECTED WRITINGS OF BENJAMIN RUSH 

Ford, Paul Leicester. "Dr. Rush and General Washington." Atlantic 

Monthly, Volume LXXV. Boston, 1895. 

Mitchell, Silas Weir. "Historical Notes of Dr. Benjamin Rush." Penn- 
sylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Philadelphia, 1903. 
Ramsay, David. "A Report of an Action for Libel Brought by Benjamin 

Rush against William Cobbett." Philadelphia, 1800. 
Butterfield, L. H. "Report of Progress." American Philosophical Society 

Year Book. 1945. 
Mills, Charles K. "Benjamin Rush and American Psychiatry." Medico 

Legal Journal. 1886. 
Shryock, Richard H. "The Psychiatry of Benjamin Rush." American 

Journal of Psychiatry, Volume IV. 1945. 
Galdston, lago. "Diagnosis in Historical Perspective." Bulletin of the 

History of Medicine. 1941. 
Butterfield, L. H. "Benjamin Rush: a Physician as Seen in His Letters." 

Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Volume XX, No. 2. 1946. 
Wittels, Fritz. "The Contribution of Benjamin Rusji to Psychiatry." 

Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Volume XX, No. 2. 1946. 
Butterfield, L. H. "A Survey of Benjamin Rush Papers." The Pennsylvania 

Magazine of History and Biography, Volume LXX, No. i. 1946. 



Carey, Matthew. "A Short Account of the Malignant Fever Lately 
Prevalent in Philadelphia." Philadelphia, 1793. 

Good, Harry G. "Benjamin Rush and His Services to American Edu- 
cation." Berne, Indiana, Witness Press, 1918. 

Goodman, Nathan G. "Benjamin Rush, Physician and Citizen." Phila- 
delphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1934. 

Lettsom, John Coakley. "Recollections of Dr. Rush." London, 1815. 

Shippen, Nancy. "Nancy Shippen, Her Journal Book." Compiled and 
edited by Ethel Armes, Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott, 1935. 

Flexner, James Thomas. "Doctors on Horseback." New York, 1937. 

Gross, D. Samuel, editor. "Lives of Eminent American Physicians and 
Surgeons in the Nineteenth Century." Philadelphia, 1861. 

Burrage, W. L. and Kelly, H. A., editors. "Dictionary of American 
Medical Biography." 1928. 

Fitzpatrick, John G, editor. "The Writings of George Washington from 
the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799." U. S. Government 
Printing Office, Washington, D. C. 

Caldwell, Charles. "Autobiography." Edited by Harriet W. Warner, 
Philadelphia, 1855. 



INDEX 



Adam, 41, 375 

Adams, John, 57 

Addison, 59, 367 

Aenead, 374 

Aeneas, 192, 375 

African Church of Philadelphia, 24, 

.25 

African Company, 13 
Agriculture, 

books on, 308 

in France, 391, 392 

livelihood for physicians, 308, 309 

national health, 290 
Aiken, Dr., 195 
Alchemical mania, 216 
Amentia, 183 
"American Museum," 35 
American Revolution, 

events of, 325, 326 

influences on human body and 

mind, 326-333 
American Stamp Act, 13 
Amhurst, Sir William, 280 
Amnesia, 183 
Amusements proper for schools, 

associated with future employment, 
106-109 

exclusion of gunnery, 107, 108 
"Anarchia," 333 
Anatomy, 133, 134 
Animal electricity, 177 
Animal life, 

infancy, 152, 153 

lectures on, 133 

middle stage, 155 

old age, 155 



Animal magnetism, 313 

Anomia, 192 

Anthony, 183 

Appetite, indicative of disease, 277, 

284 

Araeteus, 228 
Architecture, 

English, 374 

French, 374 
Ardent spirits, 

effects upon man, 334341 
Arnold, Dr., 162 
Art of Living, French, 383 
Assembly, 

annual elections, 65 

disadvantages of single legislative 
group, 58, 76, 77 

opten meetings, 64 
Association, influence on morals, 204, 

205 

Atheism, 170, 171, 179 
Aurengezebe, Emperor of Persia, 284 
Avarice, vice of physicians, 297 

Bacon, Lord, 122, 261 

Baglivi, Dr., 235, 329 

Baldness, 346 

Ballonius, 229 

Bancroft, Dr., 257, 288 

Barnevelt, 66 

Barton, Dr., 174 

Beattie, Dr., 182, 318 

Bell, Dr., 241 

Belknap, Rev. Jeremy, letter to, 

"7 
Benezet, Anthony, 196, 210, 350 



425 



426 



INDEX 



Bible, 7, 21 

as a school book, 117-130 

Doctrine of Love, 125 

early aptitude for learning its tenets, 
117, 118 

on capital punishment, 48, 49 

teaches Truth, 119 

value to medical science, 123 
Bill of Rights, 32, 54, 77 

natural and civil rights, 55 
Black, Dr., 

"History of Medicine," 250 

research work, 304 
Blacklock, 158 
Blane, Dr., 327 
Bleeding, in old age, 356 
Blood phobia, 223 

Boerhaave, Dr., 133, 134, 148, 228, 229, 
250, 251, 252, 278, 299 

humanity of, 301 

piety of, 310 
Bolingbroke, 59, 128 
Borreau, 376 
Botallus, 299 
Boyle, 122, 158, 159 
Brambilla, Dr., 151 
Brissot, 1 68 
Brown, Dr., 136, 137, 145, 147, 148, 

228, 247, 250, 251, 252 
Brown, editor of "Federal Gazette," 

396 

Bruce, 123, 153 
Brydone, 200 

Burgoyne, General, 82, 329 
Burnet, Bishop, 366 
Butler, 318 

Cadwallader, Dr., 285 
Caesar, 183, 259 
Cain, 41 
Capital punishment, 

punishing murder by death, 35-53 

revision of penal code, 20 
Carver, Captain, 269 
Cassius, 183 
Cat phobia, 220 
Cavendish, 228 
Chardin, 356 

Charity, benefits of, 399-403 
Charlevoix, 255 
Chatham, Lord, 217 



Cheselden, 299 
Child bearing, 288 
Chisholm, Dr., 234, 298 
Chovet, Dr., 354, 356 
Christ, 9, 10, 37 

"Golden Rule," 9 

miraculous cures, 286 
Christianity, 

declares war unlawful, 51 

human understanding, 211 

incompatible with slavery, 9 

influenced abolishment of capital 
punishment, 51 

religious conversion of slaves, 10 
Church de Sorbonne, 376 
Church phobia, 224 
Cicero, 378 

moral faculty, 181 

orator, 393 
Cleanliness, 197^ 198 

in old age, 356 
Cleghorn, Dr., "Account of Diseases 

of Minorca," 229, 230 
Clergy, French, 381, 382 
Climate, 

effects on diseases, 271, 272 

effects on moral faculty, 192, 193 
Clymer, George, 

letter to, 106-116 

representative from Pennsylvania, 

114 
Cochin-China, 5 

College of Physicians, 406, 409 
Confederation, 

defects, 27, 28 

need for two houses, 27 
Conscience, 181, 182, 185, 186 
"Conscious Lovers," 379 
Constantine, 9 
Constitution, 

free government, 54 

of Pennsylvania, 55-84 

of Massachusetts Bay, 82, 83 

revision needed, 79-82 
Convention of New York, 81 
Convention of Pennsylvania, 74, 75, 

76, 77 
Council of Censors, 64, 74, 75, 76, 78 

a check on the assembly, 66 
Count D'Artois of France, 390 
Cook, Captain, 198 



INDEX 



4*7 



Cornelia, 283 
Cornwall!?, Lord, 331 
Creighton, Dr., 162 
Cretins, 144, 158 

Cullen, Dr., 136, 137, 174, 187, 228, 
234, 247, 250, 251, 252, 301, 330 

nerves, disease of, 278 

nosology, 273 

nostalgia, 328 

on hydrophobia, 220 

on ftiadness, 212, 332 

pulse, 277 
Cyrus, 208 

Darwin, Dr., 145, 151 
Dauphin of France, 389, 390 
David, 20 1 
Death, 175, 176 

due to intemperance, 340 

fear of, 351 

resuscitation, 241, 242 
Death phobia, 225 
De Haen, 269 
Deists, 49, 118 

in France, 381 
Demosthenes, 378 
Desdemona, 200 
Dewit, Dr., 354 
Diabetes, 337 
Dido, 375 
Diet, 

effect on moral faculty, 193 

influence on health, 285, 286, 287 

in old age, 355 
Dirt phobia, 221 
Diseases, 

definition, 251 

effect on intellect, 195 

effect on longevity, 345 

effect on moral faculty, 195 

in old age, 352-354 

nervous, 278 

of civilized nations, 271 

of North American Indians, 261-270 
Dispensary, in Philadelphia, 400 
Doctor phobia, 223 
Dolabella, 183 
Donation mania, 214 
Dreams, 164 

effect on moral faculty, 188 

of children, 154 



Dreams cont'd 

of old people, 156, 351 
Dress, in France, 383 
Dress mania, 217 
Drink, effect on moral faculty, 193, 

194 
Drunkenness, 334-340 

medical vice 294 
Drinker, Edward, 346 
Dubourg, John Barew, 393 
Duelling mania, 215 
Duke of Orleans, palace of, 375 
Duke of Sully, 46, 89 

memoirs, 184, 185 
Duke of Tuscany, 36 
Dysentery, among North American 
Indians, 261, 266 

Eating habits, 

effect on health, 164 

in old age, 348 
Ecclesiastical mania, 217 
Edict of Nantes, 380 
Education, 

advantages of learning, 97 

arts, 94 

for women, 95, 96 

free schools, 19, 20, 98 

government, 95 

history and chronology, 94 

languages, 93 

"liberal education," 93 

mathematics, 93 

moral teachings, oo 

political instruction, 91, 92, 93 

religion the foundation, 88 

sciences, 94 

vocal music, 92 

Elizabeth, Queen of England, 211 
Emotions, effect on the body, 14^, 145 
Empress of Russia, 36 

abolishes capital punishment, 44 
Engelbrecht, apparent death and re- 
turn to life, 163, 164 
English Constitution, 16 
Epicurean philosophy, 179 
Epilepsy, 338 
Excitement, state of, necessary for 

good health, 146, 251 
Executive powers of a free govern- 
ment, 69, 70 



428 



INDEX 



Exercise, 
active, 360-364 
in old age, 355 
passive, 364-367 
time for, 368 

Faction phobia, 222 

Family letters, written during the 

yellow fever epidemic, 404-415 
Fasting, 159 

Federal Constitution, 19, 32 
"Federal Gazette," 396 
Federal University, 29 

degree requisite for civil or public 
office, 104 

plans for, 101 

preparation for civil and public ca- 
reers, 102 

subjects taught, 102, 103 
Fevers, 

among civilized nations, 

among North American Indians, 
261 

nervous fever, 285 
Fothergill, Dr., 198, 289 

humanity of, 301, 302, 305 

piety of, 299, 310 

promotes science, 303, 304 

tribute to family, 306 
Foundling Hospital, -377 
Franklin, Dr. Benjamin, 67, 144, 367 

longevity, 343, 345, 347, 356 
Free government, 54 

dangers of a single legislature, 60- 
68 

double or compound legislature, 68, 

69 
French women, 

impropriety of, 379, 380 

lack of delicacy, 379 

painting, 379, 386 

virtue of, 380 

Galen, 228, 299 

on humanity, 300 
Gaming mania, 215 
Gajes, General, 329 
German Lutheran School, 401 
Ghost phobia, 224, 255 
Gibbon, 102 
Girtanner, Dr., 136 



God, 9 
His exclusive power to give life and 

destroy it, 38, 39 
love for Him to be taught in 

schools, 120 
Goldsmith, Dr., 219 
Goodwin, Dr., 140 
Gout, 
among Indians of North America, 

263, 264 

due to intemperance, 338 
Gregory, Dr., 197, 310 

Habit, effect on morals, 203, 204 

Hales, Dr., 169 

Haller, Dr., 151, 167, 301, 351 

on corporal punishment, in 

on religion, 299, 310 
Haman, 217 

Hamilton, Sir ,Wm., 168 
Hamlet, 204 

Hand, Edward, 255, 268 
Harrington, 58, 78 
Hartley, Dr., 135, 242, 318 

on piety, 299 
Hazard, 40 
Heberden, Dr., 277 
Henry III of England, 394 
Henry III of France, 200 
Henry IV, 89, 211, 375 
Hippocrates, 228, 230, 277 

on humanity, 300 

patriotism of, 303 
Hoffman, Dr., 247, 274, 299 
Holland, endemics, 278 
Home, Dr., 304, 308 
Home phobia, 224 
Homer, 158 
Horace, 119 
Horse mania, 213 
Hospital of God, 377 
Hospitals, 284 

in France, 377 

in Philadelphia, 400 
House of Commons, 61 
House of Lords, 61 
House of Representatives, state, 57 
Howard, 195, 196, 197 
Howell, "Familiar Letters," 278 
Howe, General, 78 
Huck, Dr., 276 



INDEX 



429 



Humane mania, 218 

Humanity, in physicians, 300, 301, 302 

Hume, "History of England," 331 

Hunter, Dr., 133, 134, 304, 308 

Hunter, John, 152 161, 173, 174 

Hunting, in France, 387 

Hunting mania, 215 

Husbandry, 392 

Hutchison, Dr., 182 

Hutton, John S., 345, 347 

Huxham, 229 

Hydrophobia, 220 

Hygiaea, 371, 372 

Hypochondria, 285, 332 

"Protection Fever," 332 

"Revolutiana," 332 
Hysteric disorders, 285 

in wartime, 330 

Idleness, 195, 196 

cause of* disease, 271 
Imagination, 

affected by disease, 186 

moral faculty, 188 
Impeachment of state officers, 73 
Insect phobia, 220, 221 
Intellectual faculty, 188, 189 
Intemperance, cause of disease, 271, 
337' 338 

Jaundice, 337 
Jews, 7, 8 

health, 286 

knowledge of the Scriptures, 120, 

121 
Johnson, Dr., 102, 235, 350 

on corporal punishment, HI 

death phobia, 225 

ecclesiastical mania, 217 
Josiah, 121 
Josiah, Capt., 414 
Judgment, affected by disease, 186 
Judicial body of free government, 71, 

7* 
Junius, 102 

Kalm, 268 
King of Prussia, 

death phobia, 225 

ghost phobia, 225 

poetry of, 288 



King of Sweden, 36 



La Hontan, 255 
Land mania, 213 
Laughing and crying, promote human 

life, 153 

Lavoissicr, 138, 228 
Laws, executive part of Constitution, 

54 

Laws of Barbadoes, 18 
Lay, Benj., 145 
Legislation, 

against slavery, 16 

benefitting Negroes, 17 
Le Poivre, 5, 6 
Leprosy, 

among civilized nations, 277 

among Indians of North America, 

262 
Levitical law, 

cleanliness, 197 

punishment of murderers, 39 
Liberty mania, 213, 214 
Life, 

desire to live, 168, 344 

properties of motion, sensation, 
thought, 135 

suspended, 160, 161 
Light, effect on behaviour, 200 
Lind, Dr., 365 
Linnxus, on madness, 219 
Linning, Dr., 236 
Lobb, Dr., 299 
Locke, 33, 78, 146, 367 

Essay on Human Understanding, 
189 

on metaphysics, 318, 
Louis VIII, 263 
Louis XIII, 375 
Louis XIV, 380 
Louis XV, 390, 391 
Love mania, 217 

Machine mania, 215 
Maclurg, Dr., 262, 276 
Madness, 

definition, 212 

due to intemperance, 338 

species of, 212-219 
Magau, Dr., 402 
Manassah, 121 



43 



INDEX 



Mania, 183 

definition, 212 

species of, 212-219 
Manners and customs, French, 382, 

383, 385-38? 
Marie de Medici, 376 
Marius, vices of, 182 
Marquis of Beccaria, 46 
Materia Medica, 177 
Mathematical mania, 219 
Mather, Dr. Cotton, 280 
Mead, Dr., 8, 169 

humanity of, 305 

South Sea madness, 332 
Medicine, 

observations on, 245-292 

practice of, in America, 248, 249 

practice of, in France, 393, 394 

principles of, 237-253 

progress of, 227-244 

theory of, 248, 249 
Medicine Among the Indians of North 
America, 254-292 

anointing body with oil, 259 

antidotes to poisons, 268, 269 

childbirth, 256, 258 

cold baths, 259 

death, 261 

diet, 256, 257 

diseases, 261-270 

dysentery, 261, 266 

fevers, 261 

leprosy, 262 

natural and artificial remedies, 
265-270 

pulse rate, 260 

scurvy, 262 

smallpox, 262, 268 

venereal diseases, 262, 268 
Medicines, 

discovering new, 319, 320, 321 

effect on moral faculty, 201 

prescribing, 311, 314 
Megapolensis, Rev., 40 
Melancholia, 183 
Memory, 

affected by disease, 186 

in old age, 349, 350 
Mercury, in curing yellow fever, 408 
Mesmer, 313 
Metaphysics, 227, 318 



Methodists, morals, 208 
Michaelis, Dr., 120, 158 
Micronomia, 192 
Military mania, 214 
Militia law, 56, 72 

Delaware's amendments, 68 
Miller, Dr., 240 
Milton, 59, 158, 208 

"Paradise Lost," 185, 375 
Mitchell, Dr., 240 
Mithridates, 208 
M'Kenzie, Dr., "Essay on Health and 

Long Life," 363 
Monarchial mania, 214 
Montesquieu, 4, 58, 78 

"Spirit of Laws," 4, 12, 17 
Moral faculty, 181-211 
Mordecai, 217 
More, Sir Thomas, 115 
Morgan!, 349 . 
Morton, Dr., 301 
Mosaic law, with regard to murder, 

39 

Moses, 37, 124 
Moyse, Dr., 158 

Muratori, "Antiquities of Italy," 263 
Musical mania, 219 

National mania, V7 
National prejudices, 373 
Natural history, 228 
Nature, cures diseases, 273, 274 
Nebuchadnezzar, 201, 286 
Negro mania, 212, 213 
Nerves, diseases of, 278 

nervous fever, 285 
Nervous system, 177 
Newspaper, directions for conducting, 

396-398 
New Testament, 18 

cure of diseases, 242 

moral faculty, 199, 201 

on vice and crime, 339 
Newton, Sir Isaac, 78, 144, 208, 244, 
309, 367 

knowledge of Bible, 122 
Noah, 37, 38 
North, Lord, 78 
Nosology, 234 

retarded progress of medicine, 235, 
236 



INDEX 



43' 



Nostalgia, 328 
Nunneries, French, 382 

Odor phobia, 221 

Odours, 200 

Old Testament, 8, 18, 120-128 

Aaron, 124 

Abraham, 7 

Amos, 1 8 

cure of diseases, 242 

Ezra, 8, 121 

historical record, 119 

Jacob, 1 8 

Joshua, 7 

Leviticus, 8 

moral faculty, 199, 201 

Proverbs, 8 

Rahab, 7 
Old age, 

attainment of, 342-357 

mental changes, 349 

phenomena of, 347 

physical changes, 345-349 
Onesimus, 10 
Oratory, French, 377 
Othello, 200 
Ovid, Metamorphoses, 376 

Pain, effect on moral faculty, 197 
Paintings, in Paris, 375, 376 
Palace of Luxembourg, 375 
Palsy, cause of death, 356, 357 
Parliament, 13 

in France, 378 
Parr, 347 
Pascal, 226 
Passions, 

as remedies in cure of diseases, 231 

opposed to longevity, 344 
Patriotism, virtue of physicians, 303, 

304. 305 

"Peace Office," 19, 20, 21, 22 
Pennsylvania Hospital, 400 
"Pennsylvania Mercury," 42 
Philemon, 10 
Phiiochoras, 

favouring punishment of murder by 
death, 42 

Rush's argument against it, 43 
Phobia, 

definition, 220 



Phobia cont j d 

species of, 220-226 
Physicians, 

advice to, 311-321 

Christian behavior of, 310, 311 

duties of, 308-321 

fees for service, 316, 317 

vices of, 293-298 

virtues of, 298-306 
Physiology, 133 
Piety, in physicians, 299, 310 
Pilmore, Rev. Mr., 25 
Pleasure mania, 218 
Pliny, 320 
Poetical mania, 219 
Pompeyi 376 
Pontoppiddan, "Natural History of 

Norway," 263, 286, 288 
Pope, 376 
Post office, 29, 30 
Power phobia, 222 
Prescriptions, 311, 314 
Price, 59 
Pride mania, 217 
Priestly, Dr., 228, 303 
Prince de Beaufremont, 347 
Pringle, Sir John, 120, 197, 198 
Prognosis of disease, 276, 277 
Prometheus, 337 
Protestants (Hugonots), in France, 

380 
Pulpit, 

eloquence of, and effect on moral 

faculty, 199 
Pulse, 239, 277 

in old age, 348 

of Indians, 260 
Punishments proper for schools, 109, 

113 

arguments against corporal punish- 
ment, 110-113 
Pythagoras, 336 

Quakers, 122 
morals, 208 

Radcliff, Dr., 303 
Rambling mania, 216 
Ramsay, Dr., letter to, 32-35 
Randolph, Peyton, 330 
Ranks of mankind, 389 



432 



INDEX 



"Rape of Orythia," 376 

Rat phobia, 220 

Raynal, Abbe, 29 

Reason, effect on moral faculty, 190 

Reid, Dr., 318 

Relief of Free Negroes, 401 

Remedies, 

advice on, 319, 320, 321 

among civilized nations, 275, 276, 
279, 282 

among North American Indians, 
265-270, 279 

Nature's, 274 
Republican mania, 214 
Respiration, 153 

Resuscitation, 161, 163, 240, 241, 242 
Richelieu, Cardinal, 376 
Rittenhouse, 67, 137 
Riverius, 229 
Robertson, Dr., 10 
Rogue mania, 218 
Rousseau, 164, 363 

"Moral instinct," 182, 190 
Royal Family of France, 389, 390, 391 
Rubens, 376 
Rum phobia, 222 
Rush, Jacob, 352 
Rush, Julia, letters to, 404-415 
Russel, Dr. Patrick, 195 

friendships of, 305 

St. Anthony, 214 

St. John, 182 

St. Paul, 10, 39, 47 
moral faculty, 181, 182, 191, 201, 
202 

Sanctorius, 368 

Sanderson, 158 

Saul, 201, 286 

Sauvage, Dr., 251 

Say re, Dr., 346, 410 

Schoolmasters, dudes of, 114 

Schools, 

amusements proper for, 106-109 
punishments proper for, 109-113 

Scurvy, 

among civilized nations, 277 
among Indians of North America, 
262 

Second childhood, 351 

Sedatives, 177 



Sensation, 

excitability to motion, 136 

vital, 167 
Senses, lack of sight, hearing, speech, 

'5 8 '59 

Scrvin, 184, 185, 208 
Shaftesbury, Lord, 119, 190 
Shakespeare, 200, 208 
Sharp, Granville, 14 

letter to, 24, 25 
Silence, 198, 199 
Slave-keeping, 3, 5, 6, 7 

education for Negroes, 14, 24 

end of domestic slavery in Pennsyl- 
vania, 24 

inconsistent with Christian behavior, 
u, 12, 17 

liberty, 6, 17 

manumission, 10 

punishment of slaves, 16 

unlawful, 13, 16, 17 
Sleep, 147-151 

excessive, 106 
Smallpox, 

among Indians of North America, 
262, 268 

inoculation against, 290 
Smith, 123 

Smith, Dr. Adam, 182, 233, 260 
Society, 

in England, 384 

in France, 384, 389 
Society for the Gradual Abolition of 

Slavery, 401 
Socinians, 49 
Socrates, 66 
Solano, Dr., 277 
Solitude, 198, 367 
Solo phobia, 222 
Solomon, 

labour, 359 

moral training, 202 
"Song of Solomon," 5 
Soul, 

faculties of, 366, 367, 368 

immortality of, 191 
Sovereignty, federal, not state power, 

28 

"Spectator," 3 
Spirituous liquors, 

in prescriptions, 312 



INDEX 



433 



Spirituous liquors confd 

physical and moral evils, 289 
Sproats, Dr., 409 
Stage plays, in France, 378, 379 
Stahl, Dr., 174, 247, 250 

"Anima Medica," 277 

on religion, 299, 310 
Stamp and Revenue Acts, 18 
State colleges, 98 
State University, 98 
Statuary, in Paris, 376 
Stern, Dr., Sermons Upon Mortifica- 
tion, 382 
Sterne, Dr., 363 
Stewart, 138 
Stimulants, 177 

use in old age, 354 
Stimuli, 

external," 137-141 

internal, 141 

mental, j68 

Supreme Being, 178, 179 
Suspended animation, 161, 242 
Swift, Dr., 350, 367 
Sydenham, Dr., 229, 230, 261, 275 
276, 285 

humanity of, 301, 305 

piety of, 310 

Tacitus, 8, 258, 289 

Taste, effect on morals, 190 

Teeth, 

care of, 288, 289 

loss of, 345 

Temple, Sir William, 289 
Temple of Solomon, 374 
Thiery, Dr., 345 
Thunder phobia, 224 
Tissot, Dr., 306, 367 
Trajan, 182 

statuary, 376 

Travels through France, 373-395 
"Tristam Shandy," 

military mania, 214 

want phobia, 223 
Turner, Dr., 315 
Turner, Rev. Mr., 37 

Umfreville, 152 

University of Cambridge, 105 



"Utopian scheme," 115 

Van Helmont, 247 

Valli, 177 

Venereal diseases, among Indians of 
North America, 262, 268 

Verulam, Lord, 208 

Vice, 181, 182 

Vices of physicians, 293-298 

Virgil, 5, 374 

Virgin Mary, 128 
church dedicated to, 375 

Virginia Assembly, 13 

Virtue, 181, 182 

Virtues of physicians, 298-306 

Virtuoso mania, 216 

Vogel, Dr., 251 

Volney, 165, 166 

Voltaire, 8, 128 

belief in religious tolerance, 46 
Bible as source of knowledge of 
justice, 118 

Want phobia, 223 
War, 

diseases caused by 327-333 

education to prevent, 108 

evils of, 22 

hardships of, 288 

repeal of militia laws, 21 
Ward, Dr., 270 
Washington, George, 410 
Water phobia, 222 
Waters, Dr., 338 
Webster, 240 
Whitehurst, 123 
Whytt, Dr., 143, 174 
Wintringham, 229 
Worms, among Indians of North 
America, 264 

Yellow fever, 229, 238 

effect of intemperance on, 337 

epidemic of, 404-415 

letters to family during epidemic, 
404-415 

remedies and cures, 408, 409 

symptoms of, 407, 414, 415 
Young, Dr., 221, 208